Sunday, August 27, 2017


To Cumbria, for ten day's walking, dodging the heavy showers which persisted throughout.

We took my husband's latest production with us in pieces and he assembled it in our improved front room.  This project is taking a while as it is 300 miles away from our home.

Notice the inset pieces of Honister slate, chosen from their scrap pile on an earlier visit.  The mantelshelf uses up the second half of an oak plank which was bought for the fireplace in our other room, so that was lucky.  We just need a little more furniture for the room and it will be complete.

Now, these are the two front pieces for a waistcoat, stacking up nicely.  This time I am going for the full challenge - a different pattern in every one of the lozenges.  I showed this to friends over lunch yesterday and realised that no one was able to see that they were different until I pointed it out.  It must be something to do with the way the grid remains the same, and the colours are kept consistent, so the eye is not looking for difference, but for repetition.

While in Cumbria, my husband put forward a new walk, up on the Solway Marshes.  This is very near the start of the Hadrian's Wall path and runs out across farmland and boardwalks.

  We saw very large numbers of these lizards sunning themselves on the path, but very few birds until we came to this pond where a huge flock of lapwings were busy.


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Rat catcher

This week I had a chance meeting with a rat catcher - not that he was called that, of course.  There I was, serving teas in the coffee shop of the National Trust property where I volunteer when a workman came in.  I offered him a cup of tea.  He was wearing a shirt with the Rentokil name on the pocket.

First he said he had not come for tea, but to check on the mouse traps.  Then he told me that I had taught him English at secondary school.

This is something that used to happen regularly.  I would be window-shopping in a local town and some hulking six-footer with a beard would accost me: "You taught me in Year 8," he would say accusingly, as if wondering how I could have not recognised him.  But it has not happened for some time, and certainly not in our coffee-shop.

Now I used to enjoy inventing ideas for making writing interesting and real.  One of my better wheezes was to put the students into small groups to produce an inside page of the local paper, emphasising the fact that they had to select which of recent events to cover.  The events were the interesting bit.  I made up a list of stories in one-line summaries, using the names of the students in the class.  For example, Local mum, Sharon Smith, gives birth to triplets assisted by midwife, Clare Jones. Or, Wayne Robinson has opened his fifth hairdressing salon in Braintree.

As the years went on I reused the list many times, substituting names from the current class each time.  It was fun to see other English teachers use the same material, and the same list of stories with their classes.

But here's the thing: It never occurred to me to include the profession of pest control in my list - and I imagine it would never have occurred to my former student as a possible career option - until it did.

He seemed remarkably content checking the mousetraps, and was able to give me some quite technical information about dealing with an infestation of bees in a loftspace, so it is obviously an interesting job.  Anyone for rat-catching, I wonder?

Tuesday, August 08, 2017


Some twenty-five years ago, it must have been, I bought this little chair in  sorry state.  More recently my husband took it apart to replace one of the stretchers, and even more recently put it back together and stretched webbing across the frame for the seat.

So, at last I have upholstered the seat, using Liberty's Ianthe, one of our favourites.  From the old sewing box came a length of braid in exactly the right colour for the trim.  My husband's late mother would be pleased that this is being made use of at last.

I'm still pondering my next knitting project.  I have some pale grey yarn in stock and a selection of J&S in various turquoises.  I'm thinking I might simply reprise the Museum waistcoat in the quite different colourway.  After all, I have the charts to hand.

I've mentioned the arboretum just north of here before.  This month they are hosting a really spectacular display of sculpture, around three hundred separate items.

Some are even floating in the ornamental lakes.

You would need a serious set of grounds to house some of these yourself.

We enjoyed seeing how they had been set out in the woodlands and walled garden.