Wednesday 24 June 2009

For Rose on her Ninth Birthday

A Wish For Our Children

On this doorstep I stand year after year and watch you leaving,

and think: May you not skin your knees,

may you not catch your fingers in car doors.

May your hearts not break.

May tide and weather wait for your coming

and may you grow strong to break all the webs of my weaving.

Evangeline Paterson
20th Century

Wednesday 17 June 2009


From the outside, forlorn and derelict

On the inside

Warm and filled with the scent of roses

I spent the day spinning and chatting to children.

Monday 15 June 2009

Cilgerran Castle

Not far from the coast of Cardigan Bay there lies Cilgerran Castle, built by the Welsh out of thin slate slabs, it has been ruined since the 1300's but what a little gem of a place. It is the site of a most Romantic minor Welsh prince fell desperately in love with the beautiful wife of a Norman lord and risking all for love the couple ran away together. I haven't found out what became of them but in all likelihood they were hunted down by the outraged husband and the worst probably befell them...

The castle is haunted apparently by a rather intimidating gentleman in black who watches from one of the towers. He did not stick around when the Freemen went for a ghost hunt late last night...mind you, if I was a spectre I would make myself scarce when faced with that lot with a few beers inside them!

Tomorrow, I am off to Caldicot Castle, one of my favourites to help with an education day for the local schools. Spinning, weaving and dyeing in the fourteenth century has to be made as gruesome as possible in order to appeal to young children. It is a challenge, but thanks to the terrible chemicals used in medieval dyeing and a particularly harrowing martyrdom with woolcombs it can be done.

I hope you have a fun day too.

Monday 1 June 2009

Of Can Openers

Making dinner this evening, V gets momentarily distracted and returns to find he has mislaid the can opener...

V: Where is it? *Flaps about a bit*...What have I done with it? *Flaps a bit more*... Have you seen it?
Me: Nope
V: Where the heck have I put it? *Rummages through the cutlery drawer* Ah-ha!
Me: What
V: I put it back in the drawer
Me: Heck, no wonder you didn't know where it was

long pause

V: It's only funny when I say things like that

Friday 29 May 2009

Strawberry Rum

You need
and rum, obviously - I used white rum because then it will go pink with the berries
castor sugar - I used about 4oz
and a large jar to steep it all in.

Prick the strawberries all over with a cocktail stick, shake the sugar up in the jar with the rum
Add the berries and that's it.

Shake the jar every day for a month then strain the berries out. I plan on adding these to an apple jam - I'll let you know how that goes - and leave the liquor to mature for another three months.

Drink when you have nothing planned for the next day!

Wednesday 27 May 2009

Eastnor Castle

Bank Holiday weekend found us at Eastnor - for some reason I always want to call it Southden - a pretty little jewel of a castle in the Borders. It is not medieval at all, in fact it was built in the early 1800's but it is crammed full of treasures - armour, tapestries, four poster bed and weird curiosities like stuffed cheetahs.

It also became temporary home to a smallish party of re-enactors who enjoyed themselves very much on a teeny little patch of flat ground in all the rolling parkland.

We had cooked breakfasts, pottage, a battle and gunfire - very loud this, courtesy of the Kings Ordinance group. Not my favourite thing loud bangs...

I also had my first archery lesson (and got a bulls eye on my first shot!) The bow belonged to Jane, a girl from the Levy Archers, so it wasn't too heavy but it still made my arms ache! However, this is something that needs further investigation I think, particularly as V was placed second in the archery competition and he has only had three goes ever - so proud of my fab husband. I am only sorry that I did not get to see him compete as Lily came down with a weird virus thing so I mostly stayed close to camp to keep an eye on her. She perked up towards the end though, enough to trot around in the park and play under the trees.

Ludlow Castle next weekend and I am looking forward to it already!

Thursday 30 April 2009

Of Dens

Really, when it comes to fun, there is little that can improve on a den. Rain has halted outside play but luckily a clothes airer and blankets provide the same amount of fun as they did when I was little.
Only I never made my dens in the bath. Baths make for very cold and very hard dens but one folded king sized duvet later and everyone is comfy and agitating to sleep there that night.

Now I tried to sleep in a bath once. It seemed like the thing to do at the time (and yes, it was at the end of a convivial evening) and despite being rather immune to discomfort, courtesy of Mr Smirnoff, I remember it as being deeply unsuccessful. So my knee jerk reaction was to say no...

...and then I thought - why not? Why on earth can't they sleep in the tub if they want to? It's not as if I am forcing them to sleep rough in the bathroom. So I agreed, on the premise that if they found out that they didn't like it, that they would get into their own beds without waking me at 3am to give me the low down on everything. 'Kay? 'Kay.

And they did. And it was fun. And I asked them very nicely if they would mind not telling the teachers at school that they slept in the bath because I am already in the Headmistress's black books for feeding them nutella sandwiches. Poor woman, she probably was never allowed to sleep in the bath when she was a child.

Thursday 23 April 2009

St George and all that...

In honour of the saint and in memory of The Bard's birthday here is one of my favourite quotes on England mainly because I believe, once upon a time, the following was true...

This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,--
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.
William Shakespeare, "King Richard II", Act 2 scene 1

Tuesday 21 April 2009


I am at work and the phone goes. It is V

V: So I'm cooking the sausages
Me: Yes
V: But I forgot to stick them with a fork
Me: Yeeeers *thinks - great, an oven to clean when I get home*
V: What happens now?
Me: Well, have they exploded yet?
V: (agast) What?
Me: Well, why do you think they are called bangers?
V: No... no they haven't exploded (I can hear him thinking - she feeds me and my children explosive food?!)
Me: Well, stick 'em, cook them and serve them up
V: Oh...that's it?
Me: Yup, that's cooking m'dear.

When it comes to cooking, it has taken him twenty years to reach for anything more complicated than the tin opener and microwave. Give him another twenty and he might manage a roast.
I can't complain, he makes a fantastic cup of tea.

Thursday 16 April 2009


Another fall goes to Lady Insomnia. At four am. I woke up for no reason at all. But it makes a good time to go round and check what folks have been doing on their blogs. It made me think.

There was a time when I could not go a day without blogging. I would spend sometimes as much as an hour writing my own post, then spend maybe another two hours jumping all over the world to see what was happening in other lives far removed from my small house on the mountain. I think I was more lonely than I knew... but you see, while I was reading about other folk, I was letting my life pass me by.

Spring is a busy time for everyone - planting, planning, moving on into the season. Then there is all Summer to watch it unfold to harvest in Autumn.

It is now six o clock and I can hear blackbirds greeting the new day. Time to light the fire and get the kettle on.

ttfn m'dears

Sunday 5 April 2009

Brilliant Idea #1

Guess what this is...

You'll never guess. It is a cup holder for a spinning wheel. And nothing so mundane as a cup of coffee - oh no

Obviously my kind of crafter...

Thursday 5 March 2009

Turn, turn, turn...

To everything there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven...

I really, really need to remember this.

Have a gentle day today.

Friday 27 February 2009


In honour of St David, the patron saint of Wales and his day which falls the first of March and is the chance for everyone to eat cawl and Welshcakes and of course the kids get to dress up in national dress.
A dodgy business this as this so called national dress was the brainchild of an overly romantic Victorian - Lady Charlotte Guest - sister to one of the most powerful industrial magnates of that era who, though she had some very good ideas about the preservation (and some might say, the invention) of Welsh culture, was never-the-less not fond enough of the Welsh to ensure that the workers of Merthyr Tydfil had clean water to drink let alone decent wages.
Sorry, the old Chartist blood in me just rising to the surface there. Moving on...

One of the very best things about daughters is how adorable they look in national dress

And of course I was full of pride when all my girls won prizes for their art work

Rose came third in her class, Eden first and Lily second in theirs.

Eisteddfodau are all about competition, singing, poetry, art and recitation. It can be quite hard going sometimes hearing the same poem over and over again, but fortunately ours is a small school and we only have to hear each entry three times. Not bad considering that in some eisteddfodau the audience can be inflictd with ten renditions of the same poem or song...
So just to give you a tiny taste you can see this short clip of Cofio Dewi - Remember David - an all round good bloke apparently.

Rose is in there somewhere...Happy St David's Day when it comes!

Monday 23 February 2009

An Early Morning Grumble

It's been a busy week. Painting the house, tidying the garden - I think I lugged about half a tonne of slate chippings on Wednesday and I finished my second quilt. Sorry, no picture, the camera has gone AWOL again.
And now I have a cold and the weeks second bout of insomnia. I bloody hate not being able to sleep becuase the kids don't care that I am exhausted, they just want their morning porridge and a warm sitting room to dress in - why haven't you lit the fire mum?


In other news I have found possibly the best and easiest ice cream recipe in the entire world. Really. It is so simple that it is barely a recipe. And here it is...

Half a pint of lightly beaten double cream into which you stir one tin of condensed milk. Mix well and freeze.

That's it. Yes, it will make your arteries go clang but what the heck is life without a furry aorta eh?

Right, that's enough waffle for today. I have a fire to light.
Have a sweet and energy filled day won't you?

Monday 16 February 2009

Spring Light

It is a beautiful day here. The kind of light that shows up all the cobwebs but also falls on the eye so prettily and lifts hopeful earth scents from the mountainside.

I painted my front door today - just the undercoat- but it's a start and then I planted a few more primroses for the feral sheep to munch when grass gets just too dull.

The girls played in the absolute very last of the massive snowman then, when he finally gave up the ghost and turned to water, they replayed scenes from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Sitting there on my doorstep, sipping tea and inhaling fresh paint smells, listening to my girls dragging round an old trike calling-
Bring out yer dead!
I'm not dead!
You soon will be...
I'm feeling much better!
No yer not! etc...

Life is good.

Saturday 7 February 2009

Sir Lily

It's still a while to go before the start of the season... but guess who has been watching
A Knight's Tale just to keep the hand in.

Friday 6 February 2009

Snow Man

Welsh men take snowmen construction very seriously.
Not for them a dainty fey snow creature...oh no.

Snowmen must be BIG. Bigger than the kids...

bigger than the wife or indeed the wife's car...

and then, once the snowman is built to satisfactory standards,
a man must then win all snowball fights
and break three tea trays hurtling down snowy slopes.

it was fun though :o)

Monday 2 February 2009


Up early and yawning, Eden opened the curtains this morning, peered out into the darkness and said-
What is that?!
She cannot remember snow, it has been that long but five minutes after Rose woke up they were all squeaking with excitement and wondering if school would shut.

Poor lambs, there isn't even an inch out there, not enough to make a snowball even. But it is very pretty and a dusting is just the right amount for me thank you very much. I am not a fan of the cold but I took these when I got back from the school run.

Yesterday was the start of a new season in the celtic calendar which the Christians kick off with the feast of St Bridget, celebrating the promise of Spring while still in the darkness of winter - the new shoots hidden beneath the snow...

It is also a celebration of a warm hearth and hospitality to travellers out in the cold. I am tucked up inside once more and cosy with my cuppa and chocolate biscuits. but I've got the kettle on, just in case...
Keep warm, where ever you are.

Sunday 1 February 2009

A First

So here it is, at the age of 36, nearly 37, I have made my first ever quilt. Dah daaaaaaah!

I started it last Autumn but then making all the costumes for our medieval days sort of soaked up all the sewing mojo. I picked it up again when I visited Ffald Y Brenin and let the quiet rythmn of handsewing just float me away.

It is a baby quilt but the baby it was intended for is rather too big for it now. It really is only a crib/comfort blanket size.
Happily, a couple in church had their little daughter only a few days ago and this will do very well for a gift for her.

Roses for little Keziah Rose.

Thursday 29 January 2009


I have on my bookshelf a small book of prayers given to me by my mother. I am not one for written prayers normally but these are sweet, short and headed toward the celtic in flavour. One of my favourites is that of a Breton fisherman which is very much to the point I feel.

Oh Lord, protect me.
The sea is so large and my boat is so small

This is how I feel about time right now - at the end of a sleepless night, with the usual day in front of me. I have much to do with this day. Children to look to, a man to feed, a house to tend... a cat to trip over and a garden to ignore.
Mine is a blessed life and I know it, quiet and domestic with no hurricanes to tip the small boat over... I give thanks for this safe harbour. And I pray a peaceful day for you too.

Prompted by One Single Impression - If Only I had Time.
and the above is not my photo, it came from a stock shot of the sea and I happened to like it.

Monday 26 January 2009


Ffald-y-Brenin, a retreat in the Preseli mountains.

There is no sound but the wind on the mountain.
Here you can watch the sky for hours.
Here you may be still.
There are no demands, no fears and no expectations.

Nothing but peace
...and I had a beautiful time.

Wednesday 21 January 2009

Valentine Hearts

These kept pleasantly amusedthe last few evenings. Very simple to do, just threading beads and wrapping wire.

I am thinking about putting them in my etsy shop

What do you think?

Saturday 17 January 2009

Watercolour Sky

When the rain lets up and the wind blows the clouds away so the sun can pour through, this is what we get by way of skies in Wales this time of year. This was taken by Sharon, an artist friend of mine and the colours just got me thinking...

And this is what I came up with...

Chalky turquoise merino wool flitted through with some handpainted silk in ultamarine, bright pink and pond green

I don't want to spin it though as I think it will lose its painted quality. So felting it is. Probably into flowers for the edges of the shawl I crocheted while in hospital with Eden. The shawl is a heavy, dark grey - very like the clouds in the picture so it will come together nicely I think.

Hope you have a light filled day too.

Tuesday 13 January 2009

Grey Outside but Bright Within

A sure fire way to combat a mizzly January morning is to curl up in front of the fire and browse the web for inspiration. My wanderings took me to The Cotton Patch and the astonishingly pretty Springwood House. Quilting emporiums and chock full of gorgeousness. Springwood house in particular had me squeaking in excitement as they have squares of computer foil there in a banquet of shimmering glitzyness.

As I have said before, I love the homespun look - checks of spicy browns, cute stripes of sand and berry etc etc and I always think how right they would look in my tiny little miners cottage but somehow the magpie DNA almost always wins and I end up getting the bright and spangly because honestly, it is just what I like best of all. I am a design Jekyll and Hyde...only with glitter.

So I got these - two charm packs and a fat quarter. As Oscar once said: I can resist everything but temptation. I also bought a quilt book by Kaffe Fasset. If I never attempt even a coaster from this book it will still be worth the price for the photographs alone. What a world that man must inhabit. I wish I could see through his eyes for just ten minutes.

So how about you? What cheers you onwards through a cold January?

Monday 12 January 2009

The Clangers

All that waxing lyrical of yesterday has put the sun right off and we are back to the usual MO for Wales in wintertime - chilly, wet and windy. So I am not going out as planned but have waved two sproglets to school and have curled up on the sofa with Eden and we are eating hot buttered toast (thanks V!) and watching The Clangers

If you have ten spare minutes you could do worse with them than watch the above. It is Seventies Kids TV at it very best: enchanting and innocent.

Hope you have a enchanting day too

Sunday 11 January 2009

A Gentle Day

It is taking the sky is taking a long time to wake up these last few days. It remains the same misty silver pink of a watercolour dawn until well into the afternoon. As we were driving to Chepstow this morning I saw charcoal treelines against a horizon that changed from pearl to rose, topaz to olivine - all lit up by an opalescent sun. For over a hundred miles it made me want to paint...

Other than admiring a jewelled sky, there is little better in life to sit in a castle, well wrapped up against the cold with a thick woolen cape and the knowledge that a beef and barley stew is on the fire, waiting only for the sword practise to finish before we can tuck in, having spent the previous hour teaching a youngster how to use a drop spindle. A girl's determination to make a workable yarn defied chilled fingers and awkwardly slippery merino fibre. She made a very creditable first thread which many a spinner I know would be content to call an "art yarn" or "textured" (for that you can read "lumpy") but for an eleven year old, there is nothing wrong with that.

Hope your skies are soft and beautiful too

Friday 9 January 2009


The wonderfully talented Jessica at Wayfaring Wanderer gave me this which is so sweet of her. And isn't it pretty? So thank you very much Jessica and I will continue to visit your blog and be speechless in admiration at the beauty that you capture with each of your posts.

So firstly I would like to pass this on to the girl who put me in the way of Jessica's blog in the first place and that is the lovely Pippa atMy Arty Life. Pippa is creative in the same way that birds fly - it just comes naturally to her. Paper craft, crochet, beadwork and now photography. If you haven't visited her blog yet, treat yourself right now.

Gina who is busy Quilting in the Valleys whose eye for colour and design just leaves me speechless with admiration. I found Gina (who lives about forty miles away from me tops) via Kate Quilts in Australia. Weird or what? Kate also gets nominated for this award. You quilters are such a talented and busy bunch of crafters. You put me to shame.

Patois who though not to my knowledge a crafter of paper or wool, is never the less a crafter of words - some of them screamingly funny, some poignant, some written with enough vitriol to blister the screen (okay, that was just the once and she had just been burgled, I should cut the girl some slack) Her poetry is a treat too.

An artist's blog is always a treasure and the blogs that belong to Nan in Maine and her animal friends are daily reading. If you like cats, the sea, and pictures of snow in slanting winter sunlight then this is the place for you

And last but by no means least is POD - who is the modest owner of just about the most eclectic blog I have ever come across. I know he won't mind when I call him unique and I know he will understand when I say that a triple decker fried egg, chili sauce and chutney sandwich is unique too. I love both - the POD and the sarnie - crazy but fab at the same time.

Saturday 3 January 2009

Not Resolutions but...

Carpe Jugulum as Mr Pratchett would say. After a rather poxy December I am filled with the ambition to get shifting once again. While I recognise that energy reserves are a bit low at the moment it is still a pleasant activity to sit, cup of tea in hand, and mull over the year ahead. I make no attempts at lofty goals but it is good to have a target and these are mine right now.
I may well fall short but here's to the attempt at least.

Sort out the wretched heap that I call a garden. This involves some tasks that are small in number but massive in effect...
  • Hire out a man with a van to clear the debris of last summer (including a large piece of corrugated metal that was blown in with the storms we had in August)
  • Hire another bloke who can handle a chainsaw to get rid of a few overgrown conifers.
  • Re-roof the little shed
  • Plant two thornless blackberries, two blackcurrant bushes and some potato plants to break the ground up a bit.
If I can do all that by Autumn I will be mightily pleased with myself

  • De-clutter for half an hour at least once a week
  • Establish rather better household care routines than I have in effect right now. Fly Lady will point me in the right direction.
  • Re do Rose's room. We had a brain storming session the other night and have come up with some wonderfully funky ideas. Fairy lights feature strongly as well as fun fur covered bookshelves, sequinned curtains and walls the colours of liquorice allsorts. She's my girl for certain.
I aim to get this established/ accomplished by springtime.

  • Get back into water colour painting. I used to love to paint miniatures as a teenager. I wouldn't mind giving it another go
  • Re learn the recorder. V bought me a new and beautiful pear wood medieval recorder for Christmas. I fell in love with it at the traders fair in Autumn but couldn't countenance the expense. He ordered one for me shortly afterwards. How fab is that?
  • With regards to spinning and felting I intend to work mostly from my stash this year but I am not restricting myself as to yarn. However, I will stop the impulse purchases of beautiful yarn just for the joy of beautiful yarn. From now on all yarn must be bought for a pre-determined project.
This is the whole year laid out

  • Make time to do Pilates - I want my waist back! (by May at latest)
  • Follow the Soul Coaching book with Kim. (28 days from whenever the book gets delivered)
  • Dabble in archery a bit more. It is fun. (As and when throughout the year - next training day 11th of Jan)
  • Investigate reiki courses in this area. It sounds very interesting. (Also as and when the time is right)

So that is where I am at right now. How about you? Have you got anything you would like to accomplish before the year rolls round again?

Thursday 1 January 2009


Half way through a game of junior monopoly this evening, Eden decides that she is tired and returns to the comfort of her nest on the sofa. This has been her lair of choice since coming out of hospital and we have all pandered to her every whim. Hence she is well on the way to getting truly spoilt. Some moments later, at a particularly heated exchange between V and Rose over the mini golf, Eden declared that we were being too noisy and that she wanted to go to sleep. The rest of the game was conducted in whispers

I've landed in the paddling pool again, whose is that?

Mine. Six pounds please

Six quid for a paddle!

But I own the video arcade too so I get double

%£(%&(! No wonder I've got no money!

Somehow I managed to end up getting an entire row of properties down one side and fleeced Rose and V unmercifully. So it was hissed expletives all the way* which made it funnier somehow...and you know what it is like when you can't laugh out loud. I had to leave the room.

So a pretty good New Years Day all told. It still feels rather odd, like someone has scooped Christmas away with a spoon. I haven't even decorated. But we are having our Christmas day on Saturday, so we are decorating the Christmas tree tomorrow - a fake one unfortunately - but we missed out on the real thing. Next Christmas I am getting a tree in the first week just to be sure.

Happy New Year everyone. Keep safe and warm and happy the whole year through.

*from the adults I hasten to add - Rose reproved us both you may be sure.