June bloomed as we said goodbye

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We are back from our last foray to La Belle France and to our holiday home of 14 years. Over the years we’ve been restricted by school holiday periods and travelled every other month except June. I now discover a little of what we’ve been missing. Here are just a few snaps of the flower bed beneath the lounge windows. The roses smelled just as divine as they look and the camelia flower was as big as my hand splayed open. There are too many other photos and views to share here, but I shall hold them forever in my heart.

The weather was beautiful for the whole of our 11 day trip, which included 7 days of isolation in our house and garden due to Covid restrictions. That made the hanging around a little more palatable at times as I sat in the sunshine with a book a few times before we really got into sorting out 14 years of ‘stuff’. Two vans full of junk to the municipal dump later, tears of frustration at ‘what to keep/what to throw’, cleaning, packing things up safely to bring home have left me drained and exhausted physically and emotionally. The next step is finding new homes for everything that made it back to the UK, equally frustrating as packing it up!

The removal van seemed almost as big as the house!

Growing Crochet

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Tension is becoming more regular and the speed of trebles is increasing. This will be the back of the cardigan and two more pieces the same number of rows will be the two fronts. Crochet garment construction is very new to me. This is only the second garment I’ve ever made though I have hooked two blankets previously and have a mountain of granny squares to make another (the granny squares were an early project, there are a few ‘wiggles’ in tension on those!). I am usually much more of a knitter and a little bit of a sewist. Knitting and sewing is taking a back seat right now. This was my progress up to last weekend. Having just read the instructions for sleeve construction I am interested in how working in the round will turn out and cuff making looks particularly unusual. If anyone wants to see what I am making it’s The Gertie Cardigan by Holly Woodrow from the Lovecrafts.com website. I would so love to pop a photo of the pattern but obviously due to copyright I just wouldn’t. There are often very clever crafters who can just look at a photo and work out how things are made without giving credit to the designer.

Hope other crafters are keeping busy. I intend to dive right back in with my hook shortly. Such a shame things like sleep, general housekeeping, etc keep getting in the way this week! Anyone else say to themselves as the evening goes on …. just one more row? ……

A little colourful crochet

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I think my crafting mojo might be back! It’s either that or I am using crafting as a distraction from other things. I have so much going on at the moment it might be the latter. Mind you, at least my distraction isn’t lounging on the couch eating chocolate and watching trash on tv. That’s been a known distraction in the past and I enjoyed it but ask me to recount detail of those tv shows and I will probably be blank!

I am trying to use up some of my yarn stash. Technically, that’s something I promised myself I would do in 2020 and I did it a fair bit, albeit continuing into this year, I have had to supplement a little this time. Oh it felt so good to yarn shop, even online! The difficult thing was to stop when I did. So most of this is Lovecrafts Paintbox Cotton DK from my stash with a smattering of Drops cotton and King Cole Cotton. It should be a colourful edge to edge shortish cardigan. I reserve the right to turn it into something else along the way – as with several projects this has actually happened.

I have even resurrected a hexi patchwork project. This has been ongoing for years (have blogged about it before). What began as a cushion has grown into the beginnings of a sofa throw, maybe a third of the front is assembled already. It is mostly autumnal reds, browns, soft yellows and greens. I still have a way to go but this will be the latest hexagon filling a ‘gap’ in the design.

And onto why I am being distracted – very soon I am going to France to sort out the contents of my second home before we sell it. For several reasons we are selling and truthfully there are lots of highs and lows about the sale (many, many lows). I won’t bore anyone about the hoops we are jumping through to get there, which involves several Covid 19 tests, self isolation there and again when we return, then more tests. If we don’t go we break a contract with the sale, there is no possibility of delay, otherwise we wouldn’t be travelling. We even asked someone else to clear our house and store it’s contents but sadly that wasn’t possible. I cannot think why anyone during a pandemic would take on the stress of travelling abroad for a break away. Certainly wouldn’t advise it!

Well, back to the hook for me (and double/treble checking we have the right paperwork to be let out of the country/into another country!). Bye for now!

Somewhere on a Caribbean Island

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Last week I was lucky enough to get away on a break from home. I have been to Antigua several times and St Lucia once.

It was warm. It was sunny. I was, admittedly, in a jumper and jeans rather than shorts and a tshirt.

However this isn’t an island in the Caribbean sea or the Atlantic Ocean. This is the River Dart, taken from Greenways, the holiday home of the late, great author Agatha Christie. We were in South Devon, in the UK. The beautiful yachts and sunshine bouncing off the water reminded me so much of times spent high up in the hills in Antigua. With the sun on my face and the peace and quiet, the odd yachtie sailing slowly by there were definitely parallels.

The gardens are stunning at Greenways. We were lucky enough to still see bluebells (see my previous post about recent bluebell walks), so much wild garlic (ooh pretty but a little scented!) and the rhododendrons were amazing. So unusual to see yellow rhododendrons.

We had lovely weather for this visit, but on other days we dodged a little rain and wind and had the odd treat or two to make up for it. Now back to ‘normality’ or whatever normality living in a pandemic allows us. Masks on, walking boots on, planned appointments, nothing spontaneous for now. You never know I might even get my crafting mojo back if I am lucky.

I leave you with (hopefully) your mouth watering, Devon style, cream first then jam.

Bluebells in the woods

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I had a lovely walk in the woods last Friday, near Shoreham in Kent, UK. There are a lot more bluebells this year than last. So, so pretty. I wish you could smell them too – it was amazing! We wandered, we ooh’d and ahh’d and then we sat and had a rest here and carried on admiring the view. Just wanted to share with you.

The weekend before I actually went into Shoreham itself. It’s a sweet village, but slightly too many cars drive through the narrow street at times and it gets a little frustrating having to wiggle in and out of each other’s way (cars vs pedestrians). I did manage to take a few photos, unfortunately not of the River Darenth that flows under the bridge, nor the ducks that were taking a swim, but a couple of pretty houses – the type I dream of living in !

And then there was cake back at home in the garden.

Ponds, Ducks and Darwin

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A lovely walk at Keston Woods and Keston Ponds. I love the way the trees are reflected in the water. There still isn’t too much leaf growth but it’s on it’s way, it’s still Spring here. Talking of which, the birds are pairing up and these two were very sweet to watch. She tried to be nonchalant but I think he’d won her over!

Keston is in Kent, UK, near Bromley,12 miles southwards outside London.. A snippet of history for you – Charles Darwin (English naturalist, geologist and botanist, the discoveries of evolution) studied round leafed sundew at Keston Bogs and earthworms on the heathland. Volunteers constantly maintain the area so others can enjoy being there.

Look at the height of the towering trees alongside Keston Bogs. This area is so peaceful, the ground is drier than near the ponds and layered with fir needles. It is a contrast to the heathland and more open areas and around the ponds.

A little add on note re Charles Darwin – if anyone was wondering why he was here. Charles Darwin, his wife Emma and their ten children resided at Down House which is very local to Keston. The house itself is owned by English Heritage and is a great place to visit.

And also a P.S. if you can call it that – for anyone who regularly reads my blog – sorry nothing crafty to show right now. I am slow with current projects and will post some pics when I have worthy progress. I know I am not alone when I say the recent few weeks (nearing the end of Covid-19 lockdown and tight restrictions) haven’t exactly been helping the crafting side of my brain to function well. There’s been a lot of procrastination and distraction.

To see the sea and discovering a castle

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At the weekend I saw the sea for the first time since last autumn. It was wonderful! I was brought up at the coast and despite this week’s location not being where I am from it was like going ‘home’. This was a trip to Whitstable and Tankerton Beach in Kent, one of my favourite places. I’ve blogged about here before, it probably won’t be the last time now but I hope a little bit of what I like brings a smile to others.

A visit to the beach is like therapy. Boy, I was in dire need of a remedy to the blues, the pandemic has definitely tested me lately. Being at the coast is not just about enjoying fresher air and seeing somewhere different to the norm. The views out to the horizon/the distance without buildings/seeing people playing on the beach or in the sea (too breezy today to sit on the pebbles or play in the water for me!)/people sailing boats and kites/children fishing for crabs from the harbour, lowering buckets into the sea and squealing with delight or horror when they see a crab coming up. Put it all together and it just feels terrific!

Today we also discovered something new. We usually meander the same part of the promenade, admire the beach huts, visit our favourite fish and chip stall and in a non Covid world pop into favourite pretty little shops. This time we did most of the usual lovely things (avoided the shops), but we also wandered into Whitstable Castle gardens for the very first time. A little history is in the following link but basically it was a family holiday home, been owned by several notable families and used in various guises and is now owned by the local council. The castle itself can be used for events, such as weddings and the general public can enjoy the gardens. What a relaxing place for a sit down in the sunshine, the sweet smelling plants around us. Next time we’ll make sure we’ve room for coffee and cake when we get there. http://www.whitstablecastle.co.uk/history.

Tea anyone?

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Spotted at Etchingham train station in East Sussex. Someone has fun with a little topiary!

Knitting neopolitan ice cream and a day in Sussex

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Not exactly the same shades as neopolitan but as I knit this hoodie it sure does remind me of it. The pink is strawberry-ish, the cream is a creamy-cream not vanilla, and the green is not chocolate at all (more of a pistachio, my favourite flavour of ice cream). I can remember when I was little we had the odd family treat of neapolitan bought from the ice cream van as it drove and parked up in the roads around where we lived. It was sold in a cardboard sleeve and you had to make sure everyone got a taste of all three flavours even if you intended to stir it all together in your dish to make a pale brown mush, as my Dad did.

So that’s enough about food. My ‘changing dietary habits’ hasn’t been going as well as I’d intended. Now I am even dreaming about treats, and it’s just been Easter and who can turn the Easter Bunny away? Not me!

Onto another note, another something nice as we all still need a few nice things to think about whilst the pandemic is still causing concern and restrictions. Last weekend, Easter as was, we took a little foray into the countryside near to where I am from rather than where I live now.

This is Sedlescombe, near Battle, near Hastings (which is famous for the 1066 Conquering by the Normans). There are resident ducks who just do their own thing along the High Street. There’s even a speed zone for 20mph and it seems drivers obey the rules, luckily for the ducks. There are gorgeous houses, many of which are 15th or 16th Century or similar. The thatch is my ultimate favourite, 1509 it says on the plaque. I dream about living here.

Not much else has exactly been happening in my part of the world recently. Still sitting crafting, though sporadic. I keep thinking about sorting out ‘stuff’, also sporadic. Why hurry when it feels like I’ve all the time in the world? We’re still encouraged to stay home as much as we can. I am getting very bored. How about you?

New knit and new diet

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I started on the new project, a hoodie for a four year old. It’s time-dependent, after all children grow past the size you are making if you aren’t quick enough. For me it’s been a similar thing over the last twelve months or so. Not that it’s age that makes me grow, it’s cake and inactivity!

Anyone else been on the ‘lockdown’ diet or ‘pandemic’ diet? I am slightly worried that when I eventually get round to finishing off the project I was working on (sparkly jumper, sleeves too long) that the whole thing might be a little too snug in places so it won’t be wearable anyway for a while.

So, today is the start of a ‘lockdown’ diet rethink. I use the word ‘diet’ as a change in nutritional behaviour, not compulsive weeks of consuming just lettuce leaves and fresh air. It’s a rethink of what actually goes in my mouth as necessity rather than mindless grazing and over-indulgence of sweet treats. I have done it before, very successfully, albeit with support from a very well known ‘diet and mindset’ company. This time I am going freelance with the odd comfort/treat and an increase in exercise from practically zero to doing some without finding excuses as to why not to.

Wish me luck? I will I try not to eat all my Mother’s Day treats all at once – but it would be an insult to my son if I didn’t eat any, wouldn’t it?