Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Two Shades of Grey

First, the very discoloured cream doors of the wardrobe fitment in our bedroom.  These have been in situ since the late 80s when our predecessors installed them.  At first we toyed with the idea of a large Edwardian triple robe, and, indeed, saw several which would have worked quite well.  Inertia is a strong force for us, however, and the years passed by without us doing anything about it.

Recently, I read a comment from a lady who was downsizing, about how she had had enough of "brown furniture."  That would be "brown" as in "wood-coloured", I suppose.

Anyhoo, we thought the time had come for these doors.  My husband ordered some MDF and, much glueing, clamping and five coats of paint later, we have the "After" picture.  He ordered a narrow, lightweight mirror for the central panel.  We scanned the Farrow and Ball paintchart and chose Dove Tail and Elephant's Breath, not quite realising how these colours read differently depending on what is nearest to them.  Here, they are definitely pale grey and  even paler grey, but we are very pleased with the sleekness of the effect.  My husband did have some fun coming up with alternative names: Monkey's Elbow and Duck's Bottom, for example.


Reflected in the mirror, you can just see the beams behind our bed.

I have been enjoying the "Great British Sewing Bee", although  people sewing beautifully makes less interesting television than eccentrics sewing badly but creatively.  I was constantly struck by the effect of time limits on the tasks.  Of course, sometimes the home-sewer is up against a deadline, and this will induce stress.  I well remember my mother finishing a dress late into the night, sewing a little floral trim on to turquoise organdie.  But often home sewing projects run on for weeks, months, years...

One of the tasks was to make a man's shirt in four hours - but it was a shirt with no cuffs.  When I was at university, two of my housemates were getting married.  It was a winter wedding and the bride had chosen a burgundy fabric for the bridesmaids' dresses.  She planned to make the bridegroom's shirt from the same fabric, but time rolled on and they had booked to go to a ball on the eve of the wedding.  While they were out I took the pieces of the shirt and made it up, working late into the night.  I had no sewing machine, but the ladies' college just across the road, St Hugh's, had a sewing room, which I "borrowed".  I wonder if they still have it.  I do remember that I somehow put the buttonholes on the wrong edges of the cuffs so they fastened back to front.  He wore it to the wedding, though.


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Spring Harvests

Today, to the allotment, for the first rhubarb of the season, and some of the last leeks.  It has been so cold and wet up there in recent weeks that we are behind with our planting, but we made a start today using our trusty Mantis tiller.  We had already dug the plot through in - was it? - February, so now we are working it up for potatoes.  Onions, too, need to be going in.

We are just returned from Cumbria where we feared to find Arctic conditions followed by that sort of grey drizzle which is the default weather in the coastal towns.  However, although it was bitingly sharp at first, the sun persisted and we made the most of the weather.

My husband, dressed for the weather, wearing his new hat knit to his specifications with enough brim to roll down over his ears in the bitter wind.  This was my knitting for the journey north.

This is our usual Lorton walk, including a sheltered lane.  Clearly it had filled with drifts the week before, and not yet melted.  We have done this walk in all weathers, but have never seen this before.

Another day saw us walking along Loweswater to the Kirkstile Inn for lunch.  It is a favourite walk, but the return takes you down the road, which can be busy.  In the brilliant sunlight I suggested to my husband that we follow the path over Low Fell instead - yes, it would involve a climb, but we could expect views and would avoid the traffic.  Both these proved to be true.  However, this image shows not only most of Crummock - Loweswater is off to the right -  but also gives some idea  of the steepness of Low Fell - and this is where it levels off at the top.  To the right is Melbreak, which stands above where we had lunch.  In the distance, you can just see Buttermere, around Rannerdale Knotts.

In order to rest our bruised toes, we took an outing by train to Whitehaven.  The line runs right along the coast, between the cliffs, or the industrial wastelands, and the sea.  It is ideal for bird-watchers. 
This image shows the pretty face of Whitehaven harbour, where we actually saw a seal swimming.  Vast sums have been spent on the marina, and indeed it was full of all shapes and sizes of yacht.  This was the town where I went to school, and it was our local shopping town as I was growing up.  However, the actual shopping streets now show the kind of blight which afflicts all these coastal towns - pound shops, charity shops and tattoo parlours much in evidence.

We lunched in what remains of St Nicholas church, most of which was burned down in 1971.  Now, there is a lovely public garden, a chapel and a tea-room run by volunteers, serving food at very low prices.  We pensioners appreciate this sort of thing.

Up the hill is another spectacular church - St James's.  I do remember being crocodiled there for a carol service one December afternoon.  I did not recall the wonderful Georgian interior.

Making the most of the weather, we took a bus up the coast and got off at Beckfoot, in order to walk the four miles back to Allonby. This has always fired my imagination since I visited the Senhouse Roman Museum and saw funerary urns, found on the beach at Beckfoot where a Roman cemetery is gradually falling into the sea.  It gave a new impetus to beach-combing.  On this day, though, we saw only the great flocks of oyster-catchers grazing then flying up, wheeling and turning.  Ringed plovers hawked across the beach or stood still, ideally camouflaged against the pebbles.  My husband was amazed to spot a lone fulmar cruising through.  This last image gives some idea of the spectacular emptiness of the Solway coast.