Remember - Its not the length of your life that's important - it's the depth.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

More Fun in the Sun

On Monday the fun continued, Lisa and I have been planning to go to Berkeley Castle (where Wolf Hall was filmed) for some time. I was taken as a child (Boring!!! was the verdict back then!) and again when DD was home from University (enjoyed it much more that time) but I had not been back since. After hearing that a 'bloody murder' (*find some 'interesting facts' at the end) had taken place there, Lisa was keen to go. We set off in warm sunshine with Lisa driving as my car decided to get a flat tyre!  (I left DH to deal with that:-))
My pictures will not do the rooms and buildings justice so pop over to the website to get lovely views but here are a couple of things that took my eye.

This splendid fellow greeted us as we entered, dressed in the riding habit of the Hunt 'Whipper In' who is in charge of the hounds during the meets and also in kennels. He wears a yellow coat and breeches with the castle depicted on his legs. Hounds and Horses are still kept at the castle stables/Kennels but since the introduction of the hunting ban they now follow 'fake trails' of aniseed. Its quite a spectacle on Boxing Day here in Thornbury as riders of all ages join with the Berkeley Hunt in their splendid Red riding Jackets and the pack of hounds and is quite a spectacle which people come from far and wide to witness.
Next we went to The Yurt Restaurant for some early refreshment as we arrived just before the castle was open to visitors, and suitably refreshed we visited the walled garden, where the colours of the flowers were amazing!

Now I'm not good with the names of plants, but I think these are Gladiola

and I don't have a clue what these are but they were so pretty!

I liked the contrast between the Lavender alongside more Gladi's. There were also lots of Fruit trees - Apples, Pears, Damsons, Greengages and Plums as well as soft fruits and some veggies.
We made a tour of the Formal gardens as I wanted to see this pool...

which had at some point in history been a swimming pool, but is now a rather lovely Lily Pool which was full of Water Boatman Beetles which I have not seen since I was a child. I especially liked the view of the castle from the little building at the far end.

We then went into the castle 'proper', and we were warned about the 'Tripping Stairs' at the main doorway - built so that the stone steps are different heights, widths and very uneven, built this way deliberately in case the walls were breached and the marauding Armies would fall as they charged up the steps into the building. 
As we made our own way around the rooms rather than take a guided tour I don't think Lisa was disappointed, though she was a little taken aback by the Dungeon some 10 metres deep with no way out and right next to it the little cell where 'The Bloody Murder' was carried out!

There were some beautiful examples of needlework, both Facsimiles but still amazing!

this is one of a pair of Embroidered Gauntlets 

and an Alms Purse as owned by Queen Elizabeth l, both hand embroidered by several Ladies Of Berkeley. 

In another room were these delicate paper slippers

The label to describe thoughts behind them is shown here...but sadly no name for the crafts-person who made them!

Completing our tour of all the rooms including Kitchens, Game Rooms (where the meat would have been hung from large hooks in the ceiling), wine cellars etc we took advantage of lunch, again in the Yurt before going into the Butterfly house where it was hot and steamy and we were surrounded by Butterflies of every colour and hue

and the biggest Moth I have ever set eyes on!

we were informed by a staff member that it is an Atlas Moth. Now I DO NOT like moths but I have to admit this was a beauty so I got very brave and went close enough to take this picture!

We explored the Herb garden of The Jenner Museum but did not go into the house itself, and wandered round the grave yard of the lovely St Mary's Church where there were many very old and interesting tomb stones, including a gentleman who had been Mayor of Berkeley 5 times in the 1700's. 
Well that's it for this post I'll be back soon for a tour around another of Britain's Stately homes which we enjoyed today, and which is probably well known to you all!

Interesting Facts taken from the website ...

The murder of King Edward II notoriously took place here in 1327.

The Barons of the West gathered at Berkeley before setting out to the momentous meeting with King John at Runnymede at which the Magna Carta was signed.

During the English Civil War, the Royalists surrendered the Castle to the Parliamentarians after a siege.

The very first American Thanksgiving was held by Berkeley men.

Yale and the University of California both benefited from the legacy of Bishop George Berkeley of Cloyne in the 18th Century.

Edward Jenner, son of the vicar of Berkeley, developed the smallpox vaccination.

The last court jester in England died here in the Castle when he tumbled from the minstrel's gallery in the Great Hall (did he fall, or was he pushed?).

The Castle has many links with the monarchs of England: most notably King John, Henry VII, Henry VIII, Queen Elizabeth I, Charles I, George I, the Prince Regent - to name but a few.

Francis Drake, Queen Elizabeth's most famous sea captain, was a regular visitor to Berkeley.

Berkeley Connections All Over The World

Having been such a long-living and prolific family means that there are Berkeley connections all over the world, from Berkeley Square in London, to the North of America and Australia in the South.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Another Lovely day or two!!

Yesterday's picnic party went without a hitch, everyone arrived early in bright sunshine and the paddling pool was filled much to Little H's delight. While lunch was cooking away we all enjoyed a cuppa in the garden, while H opened her gift from DS (who had to leave early due to another commitment) the game was a 'Frisbee' target game and much laughter ensued as she and her Dad played a REALLY competitive game followed by a variation where H stood in her pool while Dad threw the Frisbee's at her - shrieks of laughter followed as they hit the 'target' and she (and a few of us!) got splashed. After lunch we all retired back outside and were joined by a couple more guests and more present opening. As the weather was so nice we ate the birthday tea in the garden. While all of this was going on we spent time keeping the new pup from A) attacking Monty, B) climbing in the fish pond or Paddling Pool or C) eating things that were definitely not good for her. She is absolutely fearless for such a small pup so we were kept busy.

Now last time I promised to tell you about our recent outing with Severn Valley Quilters to New Threads Quilt Shop near Andover, the shop is part of a craft complex on a trading estate.
Setting off by coach at 9 am we arrived around 11 am and our ladies (and one brave hubby) set off in all directions to explore. Carys and I headed to the coffee shop for some refreshment, a lovely cup of tea and homemade cake (well you have to eat cake don't you?) We then discovered a lovely selection of shops and workshops to explore, there was a Woodwork business (the owner was selling his wood turned products at age 12!) and now at the age of 30 he has a thriving bespoke business. There was a lovely Fair Trade shop where we both succumbed to buying these lovely reversible Sari bags for only £7.

made from Hessian/re-cycled sari fabric and hand stitched with large Kantha style stitching, mine sits under the table by my chair and as you can see below I have been able to put all my current ongoing knitting projects inside which makes things look a lot tidier than previously.

I keep the Hessian side out as I like the contrast with the turned down top. The owner of the New Threads shop Meg had offered to give us all a talk about using Pre-cuts (New Threads is the largest stockist of Moda Pre cuts in Europe) She was very easy to listen to and gave us all full permission to make notes or take as many pictures as we liked, she showed us quilt after quilt, some looking really complex until Meg explained in great detail how they were made. Here are a few pictures of the quilts we saw. beginning with a rather 'fuzzy shot' of Meg explaining the finer points...of this one made from a patterned Charm pack, a pack of Bella Solids and some white yardage Size approx 48" x 48"

this one, a double bed topper is made from a Layer cake and a pack of Bella Solids charm squares

 Next one is made using 4 Jelly Roll strips, joined into a tube and cut at 45 degs. to form the squares.

This one is very easy, simply put 2 charm squares R/S together an sew all the way round,  mark the diagonal lines across each pair and carefully cut on the lines, open out, press and Voila! Square in a Square blocks simply joined with sashing. I was so inspired I bought all the fabric to make one.

This last one I just thought was so cute a lovely little boys quilt, sadly no details were given as she ran out of time. We had been split into 2 groups for Lunch as the Coffee shop was not huge, but Carys and I had brought a packed lunch so it was now time to eat. The rest of the day was spent looking at a few remaining business's before heading to join the queue in the quilt shop which though small was perfectly formed spread out over 3 units. we arrived home around 5 pm, whereon I had to do a quick turnaround as it was the monthly meeting at 7.30 pm. We always hold the usual meeting for those who are unable to join the outing and 11 of us spent the next 2 hours 'stitching and bitching' in the way quilters do!

Well that's it for now, I'll be back soon to tell you of another great day out.


Saturday, 8 July 2017

A Lovely Day and some Sewing!

Hello All,
It's been another lovely day weather wise, but for me too hot to sit in the garden so once the early jobs were done - preparations towards tomorrows Party, baking, visiting Mum etc, I decided some sewing might be in order!
You may remember I was experimenting with making Fabric post cards (see post on 22nd June) I was pleased with the results and after posting it, Laura sent me a picture to prove it works.

as you can see the stamp stayed in place and the postmark proves it had been through the machinery at the sorting office.

Following this I was asked if I would make some to sell, and I decided that today was the day. I had previously done some preparation, cutting fabrics to size (I like 6"x 4") deciding on designs etc and yesterday I did a bit of drawing/colouring plus a couple of experiments i.e. would Berol Pens (fine felt tip) bleed if used on fabric? - no they don't! Can I use rubber stamps (left over from my card making days) on fabric? - Yes I can! and could I set them by ironing them dry under grease-proof paper? - Yes that works too! but I think I need some new ink pads!
Today I layered up the 'Timtex' (I get mine from Empress Mills ) and calico backing, I used some Misty Fuse, which I brought back from the US trip in 2011 and was wondering when I would use it! It worked really well and did not give the 'grainy feel' of other bonding papers under the pen when I drew the Line and the text with a Pigma pen, Then it was sewing time. I stopped for a quick lunch break, but by 7pm I had completed 4 cards using the Wax Crayon technique and packed them up in clear card wallets.

The 5th one ( bottom photo - at the top) I made it at Clock Tower a few weeks ago. I'm now feeling quite smug having made them all in one day, I though it would take much longer.

There it goes again!!!, I am sitting here watching TV, (I had planned an evening of TV or watching a DVD) but my telly has other ideas. It's a fairly ancient analogue with a 'digi box' perched on top and it suits me but I guess the time has come to 'pension it off', as you can see by the little green light

the TV is on but no one is home, there is sound but no picture which these days tends to simply 'fade out' sometimes its for a few minutes but sometimes like tonight it's all evening! :-0 DS frequently tells me and I quote " Mother for goodness sake buy a new TV!" (Yes! I can hear you too Lisa!!!) who also keeps telling me off for putting up with it. 'But it's fine! (sometimes)' I say and as I'm usually knitting or talking to you lovely people, why spend the money  :-))
Well Today has been Little H's 6th Birthday, and I have had updates throughout the day of the celebrations. She got a new Bike from her other set of grandparents which was bought a few weeks ago, here she is all kitted up with her Helmet, pads for elbows and knees and NO STABILIZERS.

Tomorrow they will all descend on us for lunch and a Teddy Bears Picnic Party, I have pink Bunting to put up early in the morning and paper plates and bowls etc for the party food, so right now I better shoot off to bed to be ready for a flying start. I will be back as soon as I can with news and pictures of some quilts from a recent trip with Severn Valley Quilters
So until then from Monkey Business Central I shall just say...


Friday, 7 July 2017

What a Month!

Hello Dear Readers,
As I said at the end of my last post there has been a lot going on around here. Early on 14th of June my lovely Mum took a tumble at home. An ambulance was called by her alarm company and I was alerted by DH, after  a quick check over a mild chest infection was discovered but she was unhurt. After a chat with a GP some medication was ordered and they left her at home.. 

Then...around midnight the phone rings, alarm company to say that Mum had fallen again, this time in her kitchen at around 10 pm and had been on the floor for 2 hours! The reason for the delay was that Mum has never kept her 'panic button' around her neck but tied to the trolley she uses to walk, the trolley rolled away as she fell (this has been my biggest worry ever since we got her the alarm) and it had taken her quite a struggle to 'hook' it back using a broom which fortuitously fell near to her. 

An ambulance had already been dispatched so I flew into my clothes. I arrived to find her flat on her back behind the kitchen door which had been pushed shut in the fall. After another check by the paramedics fractured ribs were suspected and the infection had worsened. So off to A & E we went, many tests and and an x-ray later it was decided that no ribs were damaged but there was now a UTI as well. Apparently infection is the most common cause of falls in the elderly!

We were discharged the next day and given lots of advice to get Mum some help at home in the guise of care assistance. Ever since then I have attended meeting after meeting as Mum has been accessed and re-accessed to determine what should be done. 

Just as we all thought things had settled down Mum fell again, This time I was on duty at the Museum but luckily I was able to leave quickly arriving home to find DS in attendance, once again an ambulance was called but once they had got her up on a chair it seemed she was OK. As regards the UTI things seem to be a bit haywire, all the tests carried out since the original hospital visit show 'blood and other cells' present but I keep being told that 'no further treatment is required'. All of this is getting me very frustrated as I really need to find out what the hell is gong on, so that we can start to get Mum well again. Right at this very moment 'Nightmare' and 'headless chicken' seems to be very familiar phrases round here! Throughout all of this I have managed a bit of knitting but no sewing, which is driving me mad! 

I may get a chance tomorrow as I have to wait in for a delivery, but I also have to prepare for a Teddy Bears Picnic style birthday party on Sunday as requested by a Little girl who will be 6 tomorrow, (quite where that time has gone I have no idea)

On a Brighter Note..we now have a new baby in the family, she is 8 weeks old and arrived at DD's on Wednesday after a 'traumatic' journey back from Middlesborough (North Yorkshire) She is a cute Golden Doodle puppy (Golden Retriever/poodle cross) who it was discovered on the ride home suffered from violent car sickness. Here she is in DD's garden early yesterday.

Her name is Sansa (Yes! they are fans of Game of Thrones) and she is as gorgeous as she looks and of course I will be updating her progress as she grows. It will be so lovely for Little H to have a pup to grow up with, as Monty was already 5 years old and quite a serious sort of chap when H was born.


Thursday, 22 June 2017

A post of many topics.

Hello Readers
More Knitting, many years ago I made a knitted Baby Helmet for DS, I really liked the shape of it and its very easy to knit, I still have the pattern booklet so with the resurgence of Vintage Garments liked by many of today's young Mums, I decided I would knit it again and, I am as pleased with it now as I was 47 years ago. I will put it aside for the Christmas Bazaar and probably make another one or two in different colours.

A couple of weeks back I had the dog and cat to stay while DD and co went off to visit I's parents, Monty seems much more settled here lately (he used to fret and wander around sighing) but as you can see they have very different ideas of how to relax, this is Monty's usual position

flat out in the middle of the kitchen floor and Juno being a cat is always to be found here

on top of the kitchen cupboards keeping an eye on Grandma as she does the cooking, she also chooses to sleep up here which causes some consternation as she lies flat and can't be seen at all!
While they were here I was charged with the all important task of attaching some new Badges to Little H's Rainbow uniform

In the sewing room I have been busy with an experiment to make some fabric/textile post cards, I wanted to see if they really would go through the postal system having never actually posted one without an envelope before so I made this, I drew the design and fabric tinted it with crayons, using a pigma pen for the lettering

shown here in a poly bag to keep it clean, the next day I removed the bag, wrote the name and address of my good friend Laura on the back with a short message using a standard ballpoint pen, added a self adhesive 2nd class stamp, and popped it in the post box. I sent her an email to say it was on its way and asked her to let me know the warts and all condition of it on arrival. I am delighted to be able to tell you it worked just fine. she sent me a photo of the back, you can read the message and address, the stamp stayed put (my biggest worry) and its even got a readable postmark on it to prove it survived the automated machines. Yaay!!! Result, I guess I will have to make some more, hmmm! me thinks maybe Christmas cards for family and friends.
Well a lot has happened here lately but its a long story and its late so I'll be back soon to tell you more.


Saturday, 10 June 2017

Nothing on TV....AGAIN!

So it's a good excuse to talk to all you lovely folks out there. Last time I promised an update on my recent knitting projects, yes there are more than one including several on the needles!
I may have probably mentioned that I belong to a couple of knitting groups. One is held on the 1st Wednesday of the month at our local church, St. Helen's  They serve a reasonably priced cooked lunch every week for older residents and I have started taking Mum along to that on the day that the knitting group meets, so it makes a break for her from making her own lunch and an afternoon out with friends as we know most of the ladies who attend. Mostly the ladies knit for various Charities and Judith (our lay preacher in the absence of a Vicar!) who runs both the lunches and the knitting group deals with the delivery of the various items when she has a quantity. So far they have made Blankets for S.A.N.D.S. (if you follow the link you can find a downloadable pattern for a blanket) other times we send baby clothes for Premmies at our local hospital's N.I.C.U. unit. We also knit scarves hats and gloves for homeless people, plus items to sell at events like the Church Fete and Christmas Bazaar. So far this what I have made over the last couple of weeks.
An incubator Vest (designed by one of the midwives at the unit) and matching hat in Cream DK, .

They take a mere 25gms of yarn if 4 ply is used and not much more if you use DK (and you get slightly bigger vests!) I like making these as they are knitted in one piece and you can adjust the stitch count slightly to work different patterns on the body. These are very good for really tiny babies as they have buttons at the front and on the shoulders so they open up flat which avoids picking the little ones up to undress them when the Doctors need to examine them as you can see here. I still need to add the buttons to this one.

I have just completed a cardi using some left over 4ply, again DK can be used and they are really easy to make, knitted from the top down the only seams to sew up are the sleeves if you knit the border on instead of making it separately. I really like the colour as a change from the usual blue, pink or white.

Another little hat in DK, these take about an hour and are ideal to knit in front of the TV

Next you may want to put your sunglasses on, as they are a bit bright, 2 Beanie hats for the homeless. I came across a 100gm ball of this bright red yarn in the stash (don't ask me why I bought it :-) but I have another one the same!!!) I did run out just before the end of the 2nd hat but luckily  an oddment did the trick.
I make these in the round (have you guessed I dislike sewing up!) on either 4 DPN's or a short circular needle and are my usual 'carry around' project for passing the time in the coffee shop or at the Museum, you will also find me knitting one of these on the coach to the NEC Festival of Quilts in August. I can usually complete one during the journey up and back.
Last but not least I have finished the sweater I was making for Oscar, I found 4x100gm balls of this yarn in the stash and the pattern asked for 2 so job done I thought, but no!  the whole sweater only took 1 ball and I have a little left over from that! Back to the pattern file I guess for another idea to use it up.

So once again that brings me up to date with the events at Monkey Business central so I'll be off.


Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Another day - Another Quilt show

This time it was Bristol Quilters 'Quiltfest' Exhibition. It was a last minute decision to go but after arranging with a friend to go by bus we set off in bright sunny weather to visit the exhibition which was being held at Badminton School near Durham Downs .
On arrival we were not disappointed, there were far too many quilts to show you them all here but this is a small sample of what we saw.
This wonderful Log Cabin is called 'Purple Haze and was made by Helen Clark.

The next two are both by Kate Sullivan first is 'Jade Garden' a Split 9 patch

and a Lady of the Lake block used to make this quilt called 'Warrior Odin' made using Oriental fabrics.

One of my favorite quilts was this one made by  Ruth Ellams as it typify's the true spirit of quilt-making,

called Joanna's Quilt the label explains the thoughts behind it and I quote.. A quilt made for my daughter to take to University. Machine pieced, hand quilted (Kantha style) Fabrics include Liberty Lawn combined with up-cycled fabrics from my daughter, myself and my Mum. 
Here's a close up for you to see the 'big stitch quilting'.

Next are a couple of general shots of smaller exhibits

The next one did not have a lot of information as it was an antique quilt, the label simply stated 1880's Log Cabin. Ottawa Canada. It's colours are still very vibrant considering its age.

and finally this may make you smile, there was previously a project in Bristol to make a Bra Quilt to promote awareness of Breast Cancer and someone obviously is still at it!!!

So what else has been happening around here? Apart from all the mundane day to day stuff I not been idle, I have finally finished stripping down, cleaning and oiling my old hand sewing machine. Its a Singer and looking up the serial number on the internet I established it was made somewhere around 1922. I wont bore you with all the details but this is what the silver looked like before
and after cleaning

I really enjoyed the whole process and was ably instructed from a U tube video by Lizzie Leonard I now have the machine sewing but I'm struggling to get the tension right.

I have been sewing, one project I can't say too much about as its a surprise gift for a friends daughter, but to give you a taste here are some sneeky peeks.
The outer fabric
Today after a request from Mum, I made her a knitting bag from some of my scrap fabrics, it  measures about 13" x !5" and looks like this.

I also repaired some jogging pants belonging to Little H, 

we bought 2 pairs of these when she broke her leg as she could not wear her usual stuff due to the huge plaster cast. I cut the leg off on one pair and then with a view to up-cycling them I opened up the seam and removed the cuffs of the second pair. DD is now delighted to announce that H has had the ALL CLEAR from the consultant and after 13 weeks in plaster life can finally return to normal. so I have turned the cut off pair into shorts and the other has been returned to normal with a little sewing today.

I'm still working on the Textile Embroidery book idea and now further inspired by what I have seen on Pinterest and at show on Saturday I bought a gift pack of materials from the trader Batiks n Beads in readiness for my next Textile Book project.
Oh! and I'm still knitting of course, but more on that later.

Once again it is bedtime and as I have to be in town before 9am tomorrow I'm off to bed.

Night Night.