Friday, 8 February 2019

A Fresh Start

Today I start a new journey - as a chicken owner.

On the windiest day of the year so far I woke early having slept badly with a sense of excitement and trepidation. Not the ideal weather for bringing chickens home who had never experienced the outdoors before but in for a penny, in a for a pound and at least it was relatively warm!

And as my mum commented, “They’ll be living in Cumbria. They might as well get used to it.”

So at 10:30 this morning, in what can only be described as a very strange experience, I collected six ex-commercial hens who were carefully but unceremoniously grabbed from the back of a trailer and popped into the two dog crates I had brought along.  By 10:33 we were in the car and headed for home.

Forty-five minutes later six beautiful girls, each missing varying quantities of feathers, arrived home and bravely left the crate for their new coop, leaving our first egg in one of the crates.

 The girls spent the rest of the day sheltering from the wind, and the world in general I would think, in their coop, scratching around in their bedding and enjoying breakfast in bed.

Only one was feeling brave enough (or inquisitive enough maybe) to poke her head out today but I’m hoping after a good night’s sleep they will start to feel a little braver tomorrow and I may even see one or two of them out in the run. And maybe, if I'm very careful and very lucky, they will earn to enjoy my company as I anticipate enjoying theirs.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017


In the early hours of this morning I was reading Nigel Slater's The Christmas Chronicles in which he writes
Many plants require vernalisation, a prolonged patch of low temperatures, in order to grow. Tulips, freesias, crocus and snowdrops for instance. (I sometimes feel I do, too.)

Autumn in Fitz Park, Keswick
And this got my weary brain ticking over in a completely new direction, to my blessed relief.
It would appear that Nigel Slater and I have much in common. I too often dislike the sticky days of summer and hate the hot and/or humid days as my body struggles to maintain any kind of comfort and I become fractious, lazy and lethargic but come the turning of the leaves, the early morning mists and the cold crisp mornings or mellow afternoons with the autumn's soft and gentle sun and I can feel myself coming alive again. I can feel my vitality return and I look forward to dark nights snuggled under a cosy blanket with a good book or relaxing in front of the fire with a nice cup of tea or an indulgent hot chocolate.

Looking down from the Rannerdale Knotts

Autumn is my season. it is when my vernalisation begins. It is the beginning of a pleasing rhythm that summer seems to lack. A rhythm that, for me at least, spells new beginnings and a rekindled joy in the world around me.

An autumn sunset after a glorious day

Saturday, 18 February 2017


A cool glass of Limoncello in front of the fire, snuggling with my boys. 

The satisfaction of finishing a project - both Wiggles and Tessy Bear needle felt portraits are done (I'll tell you more about them another time). 
The living room lit by the lamp and the tree. 

The sounds of the fire "ticking" as the stove shifts with the heat and the scent of the white grapefruit candle whose wick has burnt out but is now melted in its tin on top of the fire. 
Nice paper to write on and a good pen to write with - this post began as a diary entry. 
The soft, pleasant weariness of the end of the day and the anticipation of a new book to open and sink into.

When I close my laptop I will open The Little Book of Hygge - The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking and drinking a cup of Twinings Gingerbread green tea. Delicious.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

A new crafting adventure (or 'A New Rabbit Hole I've fallen Down)

Gosh, I didn't realise how long ago it was that I last posted.

I have had a long break from crafting because I just wasn't in the right place, the right frame of mind, to want to create. Things are still changing and I'm relishing the opportunities that the changes are bringing. And one of those opportunities is a new craft that I've taught myself because of something I want to do at work. I have discovered needle felting!

I work for an animal welfare and rehoming charity as an Education Officer. It combines my love of working with children and families and my passion for animals AND I get paid for it.  And for one of the activties I wanted to develop I  needed a toy gerbil or two. have you ever tried finding a toy gerbil? I have, and I can tell you, they are not easy to find! So I decided to make one - as you do.

Knitting and spinning weren't going to help me here so I did a bit of looking around and came across a lady online who makes the most amazing needle felted pet portraits - Jenny  Barnett. She also runs classes, makes up and sells needle felting kits and has published a book of workshops. I couldn't make it to any of her courses, but I did buy one of her kits (and then two more) and what can I say? They are fabulous and I am addicted!

My first project was a hare, now called Hartley, from her kit.

I adore him! And was so amazed at being able to produce something as wonderful as this on my first attempt.
Of course, I have now bought a copy of Jenny's Needle Felting Workshops book which I could not recommend highly enough. and even if you don't intend taking up the craft, her introduction is incredibly entertaining to read and the projects she had detailed are beautiful and inspirational. )Oh, and no, I haven't been paid to sing its praises :-))

My second project is far less impressive, a mushroom as a little something extra for a swap I'm getting ready for, but I made this one all on my own and that makes me proud.

And then I decided to tackle the gerbils! Again, without a kit or a pattern, or really any clue as to what I was doing. And I produced these little guys! I know they look a tad on the 'mousey' side, but never-the-less, I am blown away by how well they have turned out.

I still need to add little black beads for their eyes before I can call them done, but I am so pleased I just had to share.

So now I have made a nice long list of all the little creatures I want to needle felt. And I'm determined to have a go at a pet portrait myself. I'm just not sure who to do first.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Create a life you don't need a holiday from

Isn't it amazing how quickly some things can change?

Just three months ago my husband received an email that has changed our lives once again. We are now going forward in a direction neither of us had anticipated when we moved up to our beloved Cumbria.

And this new life we are moving into involves both of us going back to work somewhere we have been before - and loved before. Funny how life can be so cyclical.

Anyway, we're hoping our new lives offer us the best of both versions of our old lives - time to be spent doing jobs we love, time to spend with friends and family that we have missed far too much over the last two years, and time to truly enjoy our beloved Cumbria - together.

So here's to change!

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

The joys of sewing rediscovered

I have recently rediscovered the joy of using my sewing machine. To the detriment of my other crafts in fact. 

As a gentle way back into sewing I have made a mug organiser for a friend who is returning to (or rather has just returned to) work after maternity leave. She chose the fabrics and I have put it all together using a tutorial found here:

I am so pleased with my efforts that I was very tempted to keep it, but I am a better friend than that.

It was a very easy project due to the simple to follow photo tutorial and I just love the finished product. I will be making ore of these I think.

And I have already cut out the pattern pieces for a red needle cord Kate Dress and have plans to make  a role play cooker for my niece in the very near future. Maybe I'll tell you about them soon.

Saturday, 8 August 2015


Scurryfunge (verb)

Old English; to rush around cleaning when company is on their way over.

Over the last week or so we have done a lot of scurryfinging. And I'm fairly certain that we'll scurryfunge at least twice more before the month is out. 
Why do we always leave the cleaning and tidying until the very last minute? Still, "scurryfunge" sounds nice and feels nice to say.