Many hands make light work

Since the bridge grafting episode we’ve needed to asses how we fence the fruit trees. The so-called stock proofing we did a few years ago (quite apart from the fact it is emphatically NOT sheep proof) has also been outgrown by the young trees which are in some cases rubbing along the top rails. The netting also makes it very hard to get to the ground inside to keep the weeds down and to collect some windfalls which inevitably fall inside. The final clincher is that Tom had to take some of the fencing down to get to the grafts so it’s time to look at a new way of fencing them.

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So yesterday we started to take down the old netting and rails. Working with me was Phil who we’ve known for around 17 years and whom over the course of that time has taught me more diverse skills than almost anyone else has. What he doesn’t know about working on a small mixed farm almost certainly isn’t worth knowing and he’s a tremendously hard worker and is very easy to work with as well. In short, he’s possibly the most skilled person I know. It’s true he has an unfortunate habit of pulling my leg – relentlessly. As he sometimes comments, his wife thinks it’s a wonder I don’t “pun” him (hit him). But he’s so cheerful and loves laughing that even tedious, heavy, boring jobs when it’s horizontal rain or freezing cold or conversely strenuous jobs in the heat of summer such as lugging hay bales in off the fields, somehow seem easier or less miserable when he’s chivvying and giggling alongside. 

Taking fencing staples out of timber after several years weathering doesn’t come under my heading of “most fun jobs”. I have inflammatory arthritis in various joints which is currently latent but even so, my grip strength is not what it once was – as Phil says, I have “rubber’aands” so manipulating fencing pliers which seem to have been manufactured in such a way as to make it impossible to dig out the sunken rusty staples is not easy, even with the aid of a hammer to drive the point of the tool under. He likes to refer to himself in the third person and assigns grammatical genders and personalities to most inanimate objects in a most unEnglish way which makes for interesting conversation. Watching me whimper as I struggle with the pliers he will eventually elbow me out of the way “Gittawn! Let Philip at ‘im” as he swiftly removes the recalcitrant staple with a twist of his strong wrist “See! You have to show ‘im who’s boss!” Sometimes he reckons, all it needs is a bit of  extra “swaysion” with a hammer and he’s got more strength to do the persuading with than I have.

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We’ve worked together so often on so many jobs (and he’s recommended by word of mouth so good is he at his job) that I actually know quite a few of the other people he works for as well as “knowing of” some others because he tells me what things he’s been up to since he last came so mostly I know who he’s talking about when we catch up with each other’s week. The day passes quicker if you can chat whilst you’re working and so I’ll ask him how so and so is, has he finished the fencing at Mrs X’s house, did he get to the farm sale to look at tractors and so on. Sometimes we’re working in different areas and so the conversation has to wait until one of the regular tea breaks, tea being the fuel on which he runs – on the hour, every hour, 2 sugars please.

Sometimes I get tired or cold and I can no longer think of what I’m trying to say or to listen even and I zone out whilst I get on with the job in hand. But mostly it’s his cheeriness that makes the mundane bearable and I also like to hear about a life I’ve not experienced myself. He left school around 14/15 years old and went to work on the farm where his dad was farm manager. (I’m a bit hazy on his age because he claims to have 2 birthdays a year. I challenged him on this once saying nobody has two birthdays a year so don’t be so silly and he looked mock indignant for a second before bursting into yet more giggles. He pointed out quite rightly that the Queen has two birthdays a year and if it’s good enough for Her Majesty then it’s good enough for Philip…) The skills and knowledge he has built up over the past 50 years cover an old fashioned way of farming that has disappeared now but spans right up to current farming methods because he still works on various holdings as self employed even though officially now retired. He is my touchstone to the near past, explaining methods and machinery that I don’t understand, coming from a townie background as I do and listening to him is like looking through a photo album of yesteryear or a museum of agriculture, the machinery and equipment festooned with cobwebs and dust and time.

He quite likes what he calls my “old fashioned” way of approaching small holding so is mostly game to help us carry out our more hair brained schemes, anything will set him off giggling anyway and work is work is work – he doesn’t question me as some others would do, just gets on with the job without arguing. Sometimes I wish he would though. On more than once occasion, one of my wilder flights of fancy has crashed Icarus-like to the ground, it’s wax wings dissolved by the heat of ignorant enthusiasm and been greeted with a quiet mutter of “well I knews that weren’t gonna work…”

He is also quite tolerant of my distinctly over-sentimental and un-farmerlike attachments to all living things although I think he draws the line at rescuing every single worm that we dig up. Yesterday as we started on removing the netting from one fence I noticed a hibernating ladybird clinging tightly under the rail in the chilly wind. I adore ladybirds and always have and we really don’t get many this high up here so I am fiercely protective of them especially as they do such a valuable job of predating on greenfly. I intended to scoop it up and move it to the potting shed to sleep out the rest of the cold spell in peace so told him to mind “my” ladybird as he started work. He mumbled a bit about telling it to “fly away home” and gave a couple of swift taps with the hammer on the post to remove the top staple before I could stop him and the ladybird slid an inch down the post with each reverberation – I swear I could hear it’s claws screeching down the timber – before finally losing it’s grip on the third stroke and plummeting Geronimo! the remaining metre to the ground below. I immediately started hunting in the long grass for it but it had rolled into the roots and disappeared. I looked at Phil reproachfully and told him I couldn’t find it. “well you told it to fly away home” he said. No. I didn’t. I was going to rescue it and then you hammered the post before I could and it fell off is what happened. Actually. I told him to mind where he was treading now as he finished removing the netting. “Well if she stops whurr she is then she won’t come to no harm will she” he retorted, clearly unimpressed with my St Francis Thought for the Day.

Last week as we dug over the raspberry cage – a truly thankless task given the soil was sodden and compacted and has many years of weed roots in – ready to plant the fresh raspberry canes we’ve just bought

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we talked a lot about the farm where he worked when he first left school. About the hardy native Hereford cattle that would live out all winter unlike modern Dairy/Beef which are continental cross breeds and are housed in the winter months. It was his job to throw straw along the hedges for the cows to calve on in the lee of the windbreak and he used to take the horse and cart out to do this as the semi wild Hereford mammas would charge at people to protect their calves (never ever underestimate the danger of a mummy cow) but would leave the horse alone as it posed no threat – and with it the vulnerable human standing in the cart. He said when he was a lad the boss wouldn’t let him take the tractors (he is now one of the most skilled tractor drivers I’ve come across and can manoeuvre them in ridiculously tight spaces) so he always had to use the Shire horse for heavy jobs as a youngster. He liked the horse he said, she was gentle and calm. Mind you, he said, once she panicked a bit. They used to cart the muck to the edge of a quarry in a wood and tip it down there. He said it was one of those oval tipper carts? I didn’t know what he meant, it’s not something that you’d see on any farm now despite the fact that I imagine they were still fairly common in the 60’s and I was also becoming cold and starting to get weary so I just grunted. He explained that you pulled out a peg and the cart tipped back on it’s pivots, emptying it’s contents out the back and in this case, over the edge of a cliff into the woods below. An handy piece of kit in an age where hydraulics hadn’t been invented and like so many elegant solutions continued long after more modern methods had become common.

He carried on “I pulled out the peg a bit sharpish like” Oh dear I said, did the cart tip too far? “No!!! Blummin’ horse went up in the air!!!” He stretched his eyes wide and flung his hand sharply skywards to indicate the trajectory and speed of the unfortunate Shire. He shuddered at the memory, “Boy! was I frit!!!” I pointed out the horse was probably rather “frit” as well under the circumstances. Most horses I’ve had any dealing with would take grave exception to being dangled from the shafts of a cart by it’s harness, hooves scrabbling frantically in the air whilst teetering on the edge of a precipice. Even the more unflappable carthorse types. What happened?   “I was cutting at the straps with my knife to free it, boy did it take some cutting, those straps were strong!!!!” Apparently the horse landed safely and no real harm was done – except to the harness. What we learn from history is that we don’t learn from history however and apparently the horse had a second episode of being launched into orbit on another occasion before the young Phil finally got to grips with the mysterious workings of the tipper cart.

He shook his head “Poor Leonard”

Leonard?!?

“Yeah that was it’s name, Leonard”

But you said it was a mare?

“Yays” he affirmed.

But Leonard is a boys name I protested!

He shrugged – this being his standard reply to all things beyond his ken. “It was definitely a mare and it was definitely called Leonard, dunnos why”

The unfortunate Leonard presumably need a psychiatrist by the time she was retired what with her ton of person being flung around every so often at short notice and being called by boys names and whatnot. I began to wonder at her placid nature and decided she’d probably just given up altogether… However the story of her flight did keep me chuckling for the rest of the afternoon and so the job got done.

Barking up the wrong tree

A few years ago we planted an orchard of fruit trees, mostly apples that had a fighting chance of thriving at our altitude (1000ft above sea level) and on heavy wet clay – not the happiest of climes for fruit growing. Over the past few years the maidens (baby one year old grafted trees) have had their formative pruning done by Tom the Apple Man who’s expert knowledge and ruthless stripping of fruit buds made the trees grow into strong little trees. Last year which was about the fifth season and we actually had a really decent harvest of apples.

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Some of these were stored and labelled for eating and cooking over winter – we still have a few left that are quite good keepers, although the shorter lived ones have long since gone to Petunia the pig. I crushed and juiced the rest and the bottles of juice are frozen to store. I’m not too keen on cider, it makes me get funny red “panda” eyes from the alcohol for some strange reason. I have made apple wine in the past but again, not we’re huge homemade wine drinkers. And we do really like home grown apple juice. We enjoy it either chilled as plain juice or in winter, mulled on the wood burning stove with star anise, cinnamon and cloves and a splash of something cheeky (well I do anyway).

It’s not the prettiest of juice – in fact if I’m being honest, it looks rather like the offering of a horse suffering from persistent cystitis. It tends to put off the uninitiated when proffered. “Oh just a….little bit” people usually say anxiously regarding the recycled 4pint milk bottle (handy for freezing) containing the thick oxidised cloudy liquid. Mostly they are converts after a couple of sips – it really does taste wonderful; sweet, tangy and full of body in a way the stuff in a tetrapac box could never compete with. The sharper cooking apples tend to make the better juice. Eating apples can be a little too sweet and with less acid in makes for a slightly insipid flavour. I like to blend them to get a balanced juice between sweet and tart but it’s fun to have single variety juices too.

I’m also a big fan of baked apples. It’s something that other members of my immediate family don’t seem to share. But my Grandpa apparently understood the appeal of tucking into the warm, fluffy appleyness and being a chip off the old block this is something I am happy to have inherited from him. I like to stuff the hole where the core is removed with mincemeat or sometimes dates, pecans and maple syrup and bake it like that. A good dollop of greek yoghurt and I’m content. Mmmm…. One of our trees, Annie Elizabeth (that’s the variety, we don’t actually go around naming all our trees like Eddie Stobart lorries in case you’re wondering…) grows monster sized apples and greedy as it sounds these are the beauties I go for when it’s time to bake me an apple. I’d happily have one as my supper. Although it has to be said that Bramley’s fluff down better than Annie does, as do Golden Noble – oh to have the choice. It’s so exciting to grow your own food and be able to pick the varieties that suit certain types of cooking and dishes rather than be restricted to using a generic “apple” “potato” “tomato” etc. If such statements make me a grow-your-own snob, well if the chef’s hat fits then I’ll wear it. I like food, I like cooking, I like the whole experience of bringing nourishing tasty food to the table from it’s beginnings as seed or cutting to it’s semi-recumbant sated reflections of the meal once consumed.

Our baby orchard has done well.

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Until a few weeks ago when by a combination of unfortunate factors, my sheep and the apple trees met. Animals and plants do not always mix very well. Especially in circumstances when you and the animals have different ideas for the plants. We humans had plans for the orchard to continue being nurtured and harvested for hopefully most, if not all, of my remaining life span. My sheep on the other hoof, viewed them merely as a tasty snack whilst they waited for some more grass to grow and didn’t give a toss for the next 40+ years.

They ringbarked about a third of the trees in a very, very short period of time. Oops…

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This one hasn’t been completely ringed but several of them had lost bark all the way around. Not a pretty sight.

Trees can take a little bit of abuse in terms of damaging the bark. But the tree’s nutrients rely on it’s version of a circulatory system running just under the bark – if that system is completely girdled by removing the bark around the trunk of the tree then it’s nutrient supply from leaves to roots and back is cut off and eventually it will die. Without being a botanist I could see that the 20 minutes of happy munching had done some serious damage to the work of several years nurturing the orchard to this stage. Not to mention the expense.

When we rang him, Tom was able to advise us to take cuttings from the trees and keep them cool either in the fridge or stuck in a pot of damp soil in the dark

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until March when he would come to perform “bridge grafting” to try and save the trees. This involved grafting the cutting (scion) from below the damage to bridge the gap in the bark

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and then graft it back in above.

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Apparently you do one bridge graft per inch diameter of trunk so for these young trees two or three bridges should hopefully be adequate to restore the supply.

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On this particular tree the root stock had sent out shoots (the larger branch growing up from the base) which are normally removed as the rootstock is more vigorous than the scion grafted onto it and would take over but here Tom was able to use this to graft back in – although obviously any branches that grow off of it will have to be removed.

On larger trees more bridge grafts are required and Tom showed me some photos in his book where a large tree had been girdled, presumably by some wire embedded in the bark as can happen where trees are used as part of fencing boundaries. The before picture showed all the little bridges neatly grafted in and then some time later when they had formed strong unions and thickened out – it created a quite marvellous structure, gnarled columns of grafts and looking like something out of The Lord Of The Rings. Maybe the Elves of Rivendell were dab hands at bridge grafting to make their trees contort into sinuous shapes…

Tom and his assistant Andrew assessed the trees and spent the best part of the day grafting the scions in. In some cases they were able to pin the scion into the T cut in the trunk to secure it before applying grafting wax and in other places they had to simply bind the scions in with tape. Hopefully they will all form strong unions soon and save the trees from slowly dying out. My mother did a grafting course with Tom and had 100% success with her little trees and so hopefully we can graft some more onto suitable root stock as an insurance policy against losing the parent tree although Tom seemed happy they would do well now and hopefully they will not be set back too much by this winter’s unfortunate incidence.

Needless to say I feel very sheepish – and measure will be taken to make sure the pesky critters really can’t get through the fencing in future…

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Yes, you!! ;0)

Take a seat

It’s been a long while since I’ve had the opportunity to spread out some sewing things. We were taught the rudiments of sewing at my primary school. I still use the needlecase I made then – it’s not elegant but it works and I like the fact that it’s still around, although the project bags we tied dyed in a messy lesson in an empty classroom and then sewed up on our teachers hand cranked Singer has long since disappeared sadly.

When I was around 11 years old my mother showed me the basics of dressmaking and then rather bravely let me loose on her workhorse of an Elna (which is the one we still use now; it’s the same age as me or possibly older!) and throughout my teens I happily made a lot of my clothes, buying up remnants with my meagre funds and experimenting with adapting patterns and copying the clothes my better-off pocket moneyed friends bought (for some reason this annoyed some of them…) I’d window shop in town and sketch fashions that I liked and try to make my own. Once my youngest brother had gone to university I took over his huge desk our father had made for him and the sewing machine and other bits and pieces could stay out and I’d cut out on the floor without worrying about pins getting stuck in anyone’s shoes – or paws. Sewing was my main hobby other than music throughout my teens and I thought it always would be. I loathed knitting with a passion and had yet to discover spinning but with needle and thread I was happy and busy.

Once we’d moved to the country however, sewing had to take a back seat. Downsizing from a large comfortable surburban family house to a typical Welsh stone cottage, 2 up/2 down, with slate floors and acres and acres of mud and grit outside as far as the eye could see meant that the days of cutting out on floors and leaving craft items out for easy use were over. Once or twice I did take over our shared living space to run up some clothes for me or to make commissions; a silk dress for a friend for her 21st, a cherry red wool jacket for my mother, a grey wool and silk waistcoat for a Christmas present for my father (actually I sewed that one mostly by hand in my bedroom to keep it a surprise) and some costumes for a local YFC pantomime where I had to kit out the Panto Dame with several changes of clothing including a red and white striped bathing dress complete with ample stuffed fake bosoms which took some stretching over the muscular frame of young farmer Dave who had landed the role. The final straw came when a colleague volunteered me to make white chiffon silk stoles for a wedding she was bridesmaid for and bought the fabric before actually asking me. I considered the fine layer of coal soot gracing our living room (unavoidable when you have solid fuel stoves or fires), my well meaning but overenthusiastic labrador’s clumsy paws and the inevitable pet hair dust bunnies that swirl around when you have animals in the house and blanched. I rang some friends and commandeered their spare bedroom for sewing the stoles in and after that pretty much gave up on sewing altogether.

Fast forward another decade and I now have space to stretch out in again and places that are clean enough to cut out on. My own spare room doubles as a hobby room with a newly installed arrangement of desk and storage (bless you IKEA!) and the sewing machine can be set up and left, something so vital to larger sewing projects where the hassle of getting everything out and putting it away again for mealtimes and so on means that more often than not the sewing gets postponed until you can have a clear run at it. And somehow that clear run never materialises.

So far I haven’t worked up the enthusiasm to run up any clothes and I feel a bit rusty and out of practice anyway. But I’ve had great fun in the past couple of weeks doing a few small sewing things and easing myself back in gently. I made an apron which I use every day at the moment (I do love my aprons, as with tea towels and crockery I’m quite happy to collect them!) and some seat cushions for my kitchen chairs.

A while back I made this notice board for my kitchen from some fabric, buttons and East of India ribbon I’d stashed some years ago because “oooo…WANT all the shiny pretty things”. Stashing looks like a bad habit to non crafters but every maker will know that an extensive stash is vital to crafting and it eases the mind to know there is a back catalogue of precious raw materials squirrelled away for rainy days and “just in case”. This was one of those projects that is complete justification for acquisition and so it made me doubly happy to create this.

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But I still had three quarters of the fabric left over. I’d always planned to make cushions for the kitchen chairs you can just see at the bottom of the picture with the rest of it but waited until I had a plan.

I love these chairs – simple beech construction and with a beautiful worn patina, they were given to me by my friend Mel who had stored them in her loft not wanting to get rid of them but not having a real need for them anymore. She’d always thought she’d paint them one day but was delighted to find they were just what I was after and so I adopted them. She sternly warned me they needed some TLC as the heat and dry in the loftspace had loosened some of the joints but although wobbly they were OK for the time being and I use three of them round my table each day. The fourth was a makeshift bedside table with a tottering pile of bedtime reading material on it’s seat for a while until one day some friends came for lunch and I brought this chair out to join it’s mates. Unfortunately my mum happened to have that place and we discovered that Mel had been right about the joints needing reglueing. One minute mum was there, beaming at our guests and passing the bread basket around and then next she’d vanished. Peering over the edge of the table we discovered her sitting on the floor looking rather shocked amid the legs and stretchers of the chair that had parted company under her courtesy of the loose joints. Thankfully it happened so quickly she didn’t have time to try save herself and was shaken but not hurt and no broken wrists (and we saved the bread from going flying too) but the chair is now in the naughty corner awaiting surgery…

I’d never made buttoned cushions before but decided it couldn’t be that hard. I bought some thin foam and wrapped it in two layers of wadding, basting it to itself to make a padded cushion. This took a surprising amount of time given I was just whipping the edges together but eventually I had a pile of these.

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There are 4 cushions but for some reason I seem to only take photos of 3 of them!!

I didn’t have enough of the blue fabric to make both sides in it so I decided to make the undersides of the cushions in a fawn cotton fabric – you see very little of them anyway, just a bit round the edge. I cut out the fabric a little larger than the original card template I’d made for cutting the foam to allow for the bigger seat pad since the wadding was added. I had a little supervision from Moth at this stage…

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And once I’d pinned and sewn the fabric together, not forgetting the grosgrain tapes sewn into the seams to tie the cushions to the chair spindles, I wrangled the seat pads into the new covers which took a bit of doing but in the end I won. Here they are awaiting finishing.

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I slip stitched the covers by hand…

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…had some fun making self cover buttons from the top fabric and then buttoned the seat cushions  with strong cotton using a plain duck egg blue buttons (from stash – naturally!) to button the underside that doesn’t get seen.

I fitted them to the chairs, tied the tapes and had a cup of tea. And a sit down!

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These socks were made for walking

It’s funny how sometimes shop assistants feel the need to comment on the products you’re purchasing. Maybe they’re just being chatty. Personally I find it embarrassing. I want to run into a shop, pick up what I need, pay for it and go. I don’t need it being turned into an amateur analysis of who I am. Perhaps I’m just touchy. I still find it trying that in my 30’s I occasionally get asked for ID when buying alcohol or other age restricted products. I’m told it’s a compliment but c’mon peoples! How many underage drinkers do you know with greying hairs at their temples. Or that wear hand knitted clothes.

I don’t want people to comment on my shopping, I don’t need it to be suggested I try the other flavours I haven’t bought just in case I might like them too. I don’t need to be asked if I’m having a chocolate craving today (or that it will make me fat) or be told that particular brand of whatever happens to be your favourite too. Or not your favourite and really I should try something else. Perhaps it helps to relieve the boredom of passing thousands of items through the checkout to observe what things people buy together. Maybe I should try it sometime when I’m standing in the queue. The take out curry and family pack of loo rolls. The Sour Cream and Chive Pringles and the peppermint mouthwash. The weeks supply of Pampers, formula milk and a large bottle of gin…  Although possibly my favourite in my late teens was when my brother and I being sent over to Sainsbury’s on Christmas Eve for a few last minute things and the checkout guy staring mournfully at the bottle of cider and the couple of tins of Whiskas cat meat on the conveyor belt and remarked “have a good Christmas Dinner…”

But recently I bounced into the local art gallery that happens to stock my favourite Braintree bamboo socks and the lady in there raised an eyebrow. “Oh, hello. You again. After some more socks is it?”

What can I say? I’m hard on socks. It’s all that yomping around in wellies and whatnot and I go through the heels in next to no time. Because I feel the need to apologise for my existence I started to explain this to her, wellies, lots of walking, these are so comfy, such a shame they don’t last, blah blah blah but she was unmoved – apparently I was meant to darn them. Sheesh. Do you WANT to sell me some more socks or not?! And frankly, when I’ve got holes these big in my heels then they are beyond darning. In my desperation I even took off my shoes then and there in the gallery to show her. So there. In silence I bought my new socks and went home. But something had to be done.

I spin and knit on a daily basis for sheer love of it. I can spin any weight of yarn I choose from any blend of fibre I choose. I am happy to knit plain or lace, I’ll tackle most patterns if I want to make them enough. But I stumble at sock knitting. Of all the hand knitted items I possess none are socks. I’ve only knit one pair and they were a gift and a labour of love. I don’t know what it is about it – after all it’s a knitted tube with nothing more challenging than a bit of ribbing, turning a heel and a weeny bit of kitchener at the toe. And then in between those it’s just round and round and round…. Oh yes. That’s why I don’t knit socks. I get bored and put them down. And strangely, if knitting languishes in a bag someplace else then it doesn’t get finished. Which is why I’m still knitting the same pair of socks I started in, Ooo October maybe?

I finally finished the first one the other day and it fitted like a glove. Or a sock in fact. I was so charmed by this clever construction of wool and time that in a fit of enthusiasm I not only cast on the second sock (get me!) but also whipped up some batts of merino and bamboo in luscious shades of magenta, teal and dusky blue and spun enough yarn for the next pair of socks. But chugging through the ribbing of Sock Number Two this morning I was torn between wanting to go for my usual long Sunday walk and carrying on with my newfound sock zeal. Why not take Sock for a walk with me? So I slung my yarn and my camera into my trusty Hobo bag and set off in the precious Welsh spring sunshine unsure as to whether this would result in a sock or simply me wandering into a ditch as I knitted round and round and round…

It worked. I think I enjoyed this walk more than usual, my hands were kept fruitfully busy and my eyes were free to roam over the countryside, admiring the wee lambs snoozing and playing in the sun

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and all the time I was getting the fresh air, exercise and sunshine I so craved. Granted several of my neighbours passed me as they drove along the road. So now my barmy status locally is pretty much guaranteed. In fact one drove past me several times in his tractor over the course of my walk which made me wonder if he was unable to believe what he was seeing but it turned out he was lugging stone from the quarry further down the hill and after the fourth time of me stepping onto the verge and nodding at him over my knitting he couldn’t stand it any longer and opened his cab door to offer me a lift which I politely declined. He was probably relieved as his eyebrows did do a funny twitchy thing as his gaze fell on my embryo sock…

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There is so much around if you keep your eyes and ears open. I watched a couple of buzzards soaring on a  thermal, noticed the clouds building up over the Welsh mountains on the far horizon, the smoke drifting from bonfires on the hillside and laughed at the lambs skipping around their grazing mums. I stopped to look at the way the light glowed through the red bramble leaves from last autumn

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and the mosses growing on the cliff in the cwm I walked down.

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I listened to the croak of ravens and chuck of crows, the bees that overtook me as I bumbled in the slow lane and the water trickling down the ravine and then foaming where it joined the race tumbling under the bridge where I stopped to turn round. Two hours of pure enjoyment and interest.

And at the end of it I had a third of a sock too. Bonus! Now excuse me, I’ve a heel to turn.

Shall we begin…

I’ve considered a writing a blog in the past but always felt slightly uncomfortable with the thought that maybe it’s a little like one’s own private soapbox, pontificating into the ether. And nobody’s listening anyway.

For the past couple of years I’ve “hung out online” on my Ravelry group instead with likeminded knitters, spinners and crafters and preferred the idea that the conversation is at least dialogue and democratic and somebody somewhere can always prick your bubble if you get too high and mighty. Or click your buttons. Oh the shame of being cut down to size by a button click….

Recently a few people have suggested I start writing a blog. After due extended mulling-over and sheeplike procrastination I finally realised how much I enjoy following other people’s blogs and reading about the things that they make and do – and with nary a soapbox in sight – and that some of those friends who suggested dipping my toe into the blog-pond are folks not on Ravelry nor are they likely to ever be. Perhaps it was time to start a blog after all. So here we go.

In the main this will be about making things (textiles featuring heavily, you have been warned) and growing things in my beloved veggie plot. Hopefully those things will mostly be vegetables. The animals like to take a twirl in the limelight every now and then, some more so than others I suspect  frowns at a certain small furry feline person. Living in rural Wales will probably flavour the writing as well as the cooking.

Who knows where it will go, we’ll probably have to suck it and see. Just wash the mud off first though okay…