Sunday 28 August 2022

Slow stitching

The last time I wrote was during my annual leave. I've been back at work for a week and the time just seems to be flying by. My car went into the garage for its annual service during my holiday and there weren't any problems. I did a lot of walking but didn't lose any weight as all the walking made me extra hungry. Every year since 2014 I've taken part in the challenge to walk a thousand miles in the year. This weekend I've smashed that total and there is still 4 months of the year left to go. I wonder how far I'll have walked when I total up on New Year's eve. On the sewing front there has been bits going on but progress is difficult to quantify.

Yesterday I pulled out the grandmothers garden quilt. I'm not sure when I started this quilt but it is a long term slow stitching project. Finally, earlier today I stitched the last of the white row together. The quilt now reaches the edges of the top of a double bed. I need to add at least  one if not two more rounds of flowers so that there is an overhang. Once that is done I'll be able to add incomplete rounds to make the quilt the right finished size.. The next round is red and I already have 24 'flowers' made. I need 48 flowers to complete the round. Here's a photo I took of the quilt so far. I couldn't get it all in the picture. Because I'm adding flowers made of hexagons the quilt is hexagonal in shape. This is why I'll start to make it into a rectangle as it grows.

Getting the last row finished has been my slow stitching for today. I might have made a start on the next round but we had our grandson visit for the day.  He is very cute and is full of gurgles and giggles. Missy is fascinated by him and he managed to grab her tail today. We took them both out for a long walk so that his mom Katy could get on with some lesson preparation ready for going back to work at the start of the term.


The hot weather finally broke and we had a thunderstorm and lots of rain on Tuesday. Since then the temperature has been more comfortable. The garden still needs lots more rain but at least the plants look a little healthier.

I'm linking this post with Kathy from Kathy's quilts for her Slow Sunday Stitching.  Tomorrow I'm hoping to do some work on my quilted jacket but we have some errands to do first. I also have some marking to finish.

Take care 


Monday 15 August 2022

A finish and a start

 On Friday I set myself a challenge of sewing the binding down on the Noah's Ark quilt. It was very hot and so I wasn't sure I could get it done but I took it in short bursts. Although it is a baby quilt and therefore not that big, it was still very warm to have on my lap. By the end of Friday the quilt was finish and I just need to add the label. The quilt will be staying at our house for a while. Katy and Olly are in the process of buying a house and hope to move in early September. 

The pattern for the embroidery is by Lynette Anderson and is available from Little quilt store as a pdf. I increased the pattern size by 160%. I really enjoyed stitching the blocks. I used another of Lynette Anderson's designs 'Bunny Garden' for a baby quilt I made last year. This quilt was gifted to one of Katy's friends.

I also completed another bird house stitchery. I need to find my crayons so I can colour the remaining stitcheries.

Today I did some cutting to start a new quilt. I only cut the strips as I need to cut a triangle template. The fabric for this quilt is Indigo Elements by Stuart Hillard for the Craft Cotton Co. I particularly like the fabric at the front of the photo.

I also cut fabric for a table centre that will be a gift for a friend. This pattern uses Antique Reproduction prints.

This week I have enjoyed reading another book. This time, The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont. I couldn't put this book down. I found myself picking it up to read between jobs and every time I stopped for a cup tea or coffee.

I think I need to take a rest from reading and get on with some stitching. Tomorrow my car is having it's annual service. John and I will drop it off and then we are going walking. It was supposed to rain this evening but it didn't. I hope it doesn't rain while we're out walking. 

Take care


Thursday 11 August 2022

A walk and stitching

I'm enjoying a very slow and leisurely break from work. There are lots of jobs I need to do but it's too hot to rush around so I've slowed the paced and I'm spending time being 'in the moment' and being 'mindful'. 

One of the jobs I need to get on with is finishing Aubrey's quilt. I set up my machine and set to work but for some reason the tension was all wrong and so a period of checking and double checking followed to get the tension right again. Missy loves to 'investigate' things and I think she may have altered the settings with her nose.  The computer screen on the machine is a blessing as it makes it quick and easy to alter all the setting but does lead to problems when people or pets decide to play with it. Once the stitch tension was corrected I got on with the quilting. I then added the binding. 

Next job is stitching the binding down. I finished off a second bird house yesterday. I was hoping to get a couple of these done a day but I'm having too much fun doing other things. This one needs a bit of a press.

Being on holiday is great for clearing that list of books that you want to read. This week I read Murder before evensong by The Reverend Richard Coles. The village of Champton is beautifully described and so are the residents. A lovely peaceful village, what can go wrong! Three murders and one suicide follow and it all seems to stem from the idea of putting a loo in the church!

Yesterday John was teaching in Reading and I offered to drive. Although I work there at least once a week I haven't really done any exploring. I do visit the shops but I decided I wanted to do a walk along the river Kennet. On the way to the river I passed Reading Minster of St Mary the Virgin. I'll explore this on another day. I'm impressed this photo doesn't have a bus in it as there was a line of them driving past at the time.


I joined the river at this point and crossed to the other side of the river by the foot bridge in the photo, to get into the shade.

Along the side of the river there were a lot of wild flowers growing. I loved the colour of these ones.

As I walked I passed the old Huntley and Palmers building. The company was originally founded in 1822 by Thomas Huntley and George Palmer. It continued to trade until the early 1990's and is now back selling a range of biscuits but no longer in Reading.

As I walked I discovered there was a riverside museum at Blakes lock. Unfortunately it was on the opposite bank so a visit will have to wait.

I continued past the weir, enjoying the birds perched on the poles. I love the light on the river and the reflections.

I walked past Blake's lock. On my walk back a boat was making it's way through the lock. I love all the greenery on the lock gates.

Further along there was a huge group of swans. They all came rushing to the side hoping I had some food with me but they were disappointed.

Then under the bridge where I found reflection of light off the river on the roof. I spent quite some time enjoying the way the light danced.

Round the corner and the Kennet joined the river Thames. I carried on walking for quite a while enjoying the birdlife and the small boats passing by. Looking across the river I saw an entrance to a marina with a swan busily sorting out its feathers.

A little further along I sat on the grass and made a couple of little sketches, nothing fancy so I won't be showing them on my blog but I found satisfaction in doing them. I walked back the way I had come . Whilst I waited for John to finish his teaching I enjoyed reading another couple of chapters of my book whilst enjoying the cold air from the air conditioning.

Currently I haven't made any plans for tomorrow or the weekend. I'll see what I fancy doing tomorrow.

Take care


Monday 8 August 2022

A bit of everything.

Saturday was a busy day as I had several errands to run and we'd promised Missy a long walk. Lucy and I took Missy to the common which was one of Scamp's favourite walks. We stopped and enjoyed a coffee and a cake sat by the lake. Missy enjoyed sniffing around the area and keeping an eye on the ducks. In the evening Lucy and I went swimming. Last week the pool restarted ladies only hour and we went along. Before covid closed the swimming pool we used to go every week unless we were away. It was nice to get back to swimming and it was also good to find that several ladies we had meet back in 2019 had also decided to start swimming again. The water in this pool is always quite cool but we really enjoyed it since the weather outside was very warm.

Yesterday, Sunday I sat down to do some slow stitching. I completed one of the little bird houses. I'd hoped to get another finished but I decided to do some reading and got completely engrossed. Here's the one I finished.

I couldn't find where I'd put the instructions for the colouring but I remembered that Barbara from Cat Patches had put together a collage of all her completed inches. I coloured the next two birdhouses ready to stitch. Later in the day I remembered where I'd put the instructions. 

Today I had some baking to do, first I made some bread. This is a 50/50 split with white and wholemeal flour. I haven't tried it yet but my son assures me it is delicious.

I also needed to make a cake. Richard's birthday was back in June but for some reason he didn't have a cake. He asked if I'd make a chocolate cake with butter cream in the middle and melted chocolate on top. I was happy to oblige. 

This is a malted chocolate cake. I've had the recipe for years and I'm not sure where I got it from but it is delicious.


175g (6oz) molasses sugar

2 eggs

120ml (4fl oz) corn oil

120ml (4fl oz) milk

2 tablespoons malt extract

175g (6oz) wholemeal flour

25g (1oz) cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking powder


1. Place the sugar, eggs, oil, milk and malt extract in a bowl and mix thoroughly.

2. Add the flour, sift in the cocoa and baking powder and beat until smooth

3. Divide the mixture between two lined and greased 18cm (7inch) sandwich tins and smooth with a palette knife.

4. Bake in a preheated moderate oven 160C (325F) Gas Mark 3 for 25 to 30 minutes until the cake springs back when lightly pressed. Turn onto a wire rack to cool.

You could use curd cheese, fresh cream or jam to sandwich the two cakes together. My family like melted chocolate on the top.

Having made the cake I was free to get my machine out and do some quilting. I finished stitching in the ditch around the individual blocks and then added some stitching to the blocks. The first one didn't go too well. I added a cloud that went wobbly some rain drops and the word moo!

The second one worked much better. I added a sun, some birds flying and gave the bird on the roof of the ark an olive branch.  

I also added Aubrey's name above the cute snails. I added grass to the lion and elephant blocks and some hearts here and there. I then started quilting the sashing. The stitching doesn't show up very well on the photo since the thread matches the fabric. In person it looks quite good.

I now have a lot of thread ends to sew in. That will keep me busy tomorrow morning. Lucy is going over to visit Katy and Aubrey tomorrow and I want to do some sorting. Having been quite busy recently, nothing seems to be in the right place and that means it takes extra time to find things. Cleaning, sorting and restoring order is required. I will try and fit in some sewing.

For those of you with cats, today is international cat day. Unfortunately Picasso died back in February aged 20 and we still miss him. We don't have any plans at the moment to get another cat but we probably will in the future. Anyway to celebrate international cat day here is our little cat 'helping' me sort out some patterns, whilst doing his favourite occupation of sleeping.

Take Care


Friday 5 August 2022

Work in Progress

As I left work yesterday afternoon I celebrated the start of a two week holiday. We have no plans to go away but we will be planning some day trips. How many, depends on John as he has a book chapter to write.  Although on holiday I also have some marking to finish and some preparation to do but it shouldn't take very long.

Yesterday evening Lucy and I went out to dinner which got my holiday off to a great start. John is usually out on a Thursday so we regularly plan a 'girl's' outing. Although we live in the same house there never seems to be time to have a good gossip. It was a lovely evening and the perfect way to start my holiday.

Today I started sorting out the projects I wanted to work on. Back in February I started the bird houses embroideries from Meg Hawkey at Crabapple Hill Studio. Unfortunately I still haven't finished them. Here are the ones I've completed.

I love how they've turned out and I need to get the rest finished.

I still have a lot to stitch and a couple of patterns to find that I've 'misplaced'. These are nice and quick to do so I will be working on these during my holiday. I need to find my pencils so I can do the colouring before I start the stitching.

I set up my machine this afternoon and set about quilting two of the blocks from the Austen quilt. There are 36 blocks in all and I've now completed half of them. Here are the two I quilted today.

and from the back it looks like this. It's taking me so long to get this quilt done that the fabric is getting creased so tomorrow I will resort it and re press if needed

I do like this backing fabric. I need to quilt some more of the sashing tomorrow. Whilst quilting today it suddenly went very hard to move the quilt around. Then I realised that Missy was busy pulling the quilt off the table so she could lie on it. It's why I only managed two blocks. I needed to refold the quilt and sort out Missy. In the end Lucy and I took her for a long walk to tire her out. With 18 blocks to go I would like to try and quilt 3 blocks a day which would finish the quilting in 6 days but I'm not sure that will happen.

Tomorrow, we are going to walk Missy early so I can get on with quilting. I also have bread to make and a cake. If I have time I'll cut out the pattern pieces for my quilted jacket.

Take care


Wednesday 3 August 2022

One Monthly Goal.


It's the start of a new month and so I have the chance to join with Elm Street Quilts for the one monthly goal. I have several projects I need to move forward and I find this link up helps to focus my mind.

My chosen project that I want to finish is the quilt for Aubrey. I've started the quilting but I haven't got very far. I want to finish this quilt, including the binding, by the end of the month.

I'm on holiday for the next two weeks and I want to take some time to get on with the quilting on the huge monster that is the Austen Family quilt. This is a heavy quilt to move around at the best of times and the hot weather has made it a no go area. I'm hoping to get at least 6 more blocks quilted - with the aid of a large fan to keep me cool. I will be taking it very slowly so I don't get stressed and over heated.

A short post today but a chance to set out my goals for this month. I'm linking this post with Patty from Elm Street Quilts for the August goal setting OMG Link up I must pop over and see what everyone is working on.

Take care


Tuesday 2 August 2022

Growing babies.

Back in May our Grandson was born and I posted some photos but I haven't really done any updates since then. We are luck, as my daughter lives about 45 minutes away and so we see them fairly frequently. We took a lot of care to ensure our puppy was calm when grandson first came to visit us and since then every time they come over we take the two babies out for a walk together. Missy is interested in the baby and likes to sniff his feet and give them a cheeky lick if she thinks we aren't looking. Here is the latest photo of Aubrey and his father walking on Petersham Common taken on 1st August.

He will be 10 weeks old tomorrow and growing fast. He is fun to interact with and he is constantly gurgling and smiling. He's very interested in his surrounding and this causes some problems because he won't settle for a sleep during the day if there is too much going on around him. 

Missy has settled in well and is now an integral part of the family. She has boundless energy and always into mischief. Fortunately she is proving fairly easy to train and now, most of the time she does what she's told. She tends to leave a train of toys and 'bits' in her wake. The bits depend on her favourite thing to collect. She has just got over destroying plastic flower pots. I'm not sure what she will decide to collect next.

She has also grown a lot and now weights about 8kg but she still loves to jump into my arms when I get home from work. Hopefully she won't grow too much bigger. Currently she's had a growth spurt and her legs seem too long for her and her feet are huge. After she's been in the garden she drops a trail of grass and leaves but we all happily tidy up after her.

Missy is difficult to photograph as she wants to investigate the camera. As her adult fur develops we are very interested to see if she keeps the straighter fur or develops tight curls. I'm hoping for straighter fur as it's easier to look after. We had Missy neutered a couple of weeks ago as we don't want to breed from her. She behaved very well and didn't lick or nibble the scar and has healed very well. Whilst she recovered we could only take her for short walks but she now can enjoy her long walks once more. With all the walking we're doing I'm starting to lose weight again.

I hope you enjoyed seeing the pictures of the babies. I must remember to have a camera with me when we are out and about, as it's so much easier to get really good photos when you take a lot rather than trying for one perfect picture.

Take care



Monday 1 August 2022

A visit to the Blickling Estate

Last month whilst on our weekend in Norfolk we visited Blickling Estate, which is owned by the National Trust. The weather was beautiful, a clear blue sky with lots of sun, perfect for our visit. Blickling Hall is a stately home and part of the estate. Our plan was to visit the house and check out the gardens. To discover the wider estate we would visit on a future trip. In the 15th century Blickling was owned by Sir John Fastolf of Caister. Later the house passed to the Boleyn family and it is believed that Anne Boleyn was born there in about 1501 (The exact date is not known.) When we arrived the house wasn't open and so we walked around the grounds to view the house from different angles.

This is the front of the house. The present house was built on the ruins of the Boleyn property.

This photo is from the back of the house. As you can see it is square and has lovely large windows. From the opposite corner of the rear you can see a large flock of Egyptian geese slowly nibbling their way across the lawn. In places you had to be careful where you stepped. Later in the afternoon, croquet was set up on this lawn and a family group were enjoying a game.

To one side of the house there was a lake and a lone Canada goose. Normally there is a walk around the lake but some parts of the path were closed.

We also came across a sculpture created to commemorate the Queen's platinum jubilee.

We spent some time walking in the formal gardens near the house. Some of the beds were recently planted whilst others were resplendent with colour. 

The large upside down flower pot bushes must have taken some work to keep them in shape.

By now the house was open so we enjoyed a tour. I didn't take a lot of photos indoors because there were quite a lot of other visitors going through and I didn't want to get in people's way. The ceiling in one of the rooms was amazing.

The house had quite a lot of tapestries, some were Flemish and others were made in Mortlake on the outskirts of London. This one is Flemish. Most of them were in good condition with bright colours even after all this time.

This screen stood in the corner of the dining room, it was beautiful and had lots of detail.

The dining room felt perfect for a formal dinner party, a  great venue for Christmas dinner.

Blickling has it's own sewing group which undertakes projects such as making cushions and lining curtains. They also make costumes for events that take place at Blickling.

The next two pictures are of the Mortlake tapestries. The Mortlake tapestry works were established alongside the river Thames at Mortlake which is now part of West London. It was established by Sir Francis Crane in 1619 and flourished but due to heavy taxation on luxury goods it closed in 1704.

The colours on these tapestries was so bright and vivid.

In the long gallery there was this beautiful tapestry stool.

There was a craft fair taking place in the stables. I enjoyed browsing and bought a couple of items in preparation for Christmas. We also spent some time in the RAF museum.

During the World War 2 the house was requisitioned and served as the Officers' Mess of nearby RAF Oulton. The last owner of Blickling was Philip Kerr, 11th Marquess of Lothian, and following his death in 1940 the estate passed into the care of the National Trust as part of his bequest. RAF servicemen and women were billeted within the grounds in Nissen Huts, whilst officers were housed in the house itself. The National Trust created the RAF Oulton Museum on site in tribute to those who served in the RAF in the Second World War. At the end of the war the house was de-requisitioned.

We spent a lovely day but we needed to get back to London. The journey went well until we were on the M25 just before the Elizabeth bridge over the Thames. We were then stuck in  traffic for two hours due to a vehicle fire on the bridge and a crash in one of the tunnels. Eventually we were able to finish our journey. It was lovely to be home.

It's time to think about our next weekend away. We both fancy a return visit to Dartmoor for some walking. I need to book an hotel and plan our itinerary.

Now I'm going to pick up my hand stitching for a little gentle relaxation before bed time.

Take care