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Monday, 28 October 2013

After the storm

After the storm last night when the torrential rain beat on the Velux window in the bathroom like a monsoon (not that I have ever heard a monsoon) and the wind caused the trees in the wood to toss and creak and roar like the ocean waves we woke this morning to a bright day.  This is the view from the back door this morning.

 We were lucky not to have sustained any damage here although according to this news item just down the road at Yeovilton the winds were 75 mph. and not everyone was as lucky as us.  Mr M is out clearing the gutters which were filled with leaves and there will be some serious leaf sweeping to be done later in the garden but apart from that all is well here chez Marigold.

The wanderer tells me she is working from home this morning as there is no early morning public transport in London this morning although where she is she says you wouldn't know there had been a storm and even the For Sale notice on the house next door is still standing.  It's obviously been very localised in its effects and we are thankful that we were not affected and hope that those of you in the UK are also as lucky this morning?

Sunday, 27 October 2013


I am sure it hasn't escaped your notice that Christmas is coming!  For weeks now the shops have been filled with gifts, cards, chocolates and so on, the street lights are up (although not yet lit thank goodness) and glittering decorations abound in all the stores.  Every magazine I pick up recently seems to be filled with recipes, ideas for presents and stocking fillers (who fills stockings with gifts costing more than £30 each? - probably the same people who according to a recent weekend paper downsize and buy properties at over £1,000,000!)  Why this madness?  Christmas is more than 8 weeks away.  How long does it take a body to prepare for the 25th December?  I feel sad to think that with all the anticipation of the festive season Autumn is often overlooked.

Living in the moment rather than rushing headlong towards the future we'd appreciate Autumn in all its guises the gentle slowing down of things, the softening of the colours, the wonderful light when the low sun does deign to show itself, the clouds scudding across the sky, the shortening of the days - no long twilit evenings perhaps but instead we shut out the darkness and snuggle by the fire.

I love autumn - there is a kind of liberation in the fact that we can't be outside all the time gardening and going for outings sometimes the weather is against all that, the things we didn't do that we had planned to do must now be shelved till next year and there's time for indoor pursuits instead. They say a change is as good as a rest after all and there will be plenty of time to think about Christmas later nearer the time surely?

So I plan to make this a Christmas free zone here on my blog at least until we are well into December.  If you want sanctuary from all the madness that seems to take over at this time of year I promise there will be no red and green, no tinsel nor recipes for Christmas food, nothing telling you how to decorate your house or tree just normal daily living and enjoyment of the seasons each in its turn.

Front page headline in the paper   It seems that due to poor harvests the price of olives will increase by 50% and some olive growers will struggle to meet existing contracts and earlier this month agriculture experts said that there would be a shortage of goat's cheese too.  Whatever will we do?!!! Can we possibly entertain without olives or goat's cheese?!!

Friday, 25 October 2013

Tea for 5 pence? 'Fraid not!!

First of all thank you all so much for your kind and encouraging blog comments on my previous post about my patchwork quilt.  I have almost finished hand stitching the border now.

I had a day out with a friend yesterday.  This was the friend who lives in Bristol and who I visited here.  I picked her up at the station yesterday morning and we went to Sherborne as she said she hadn't been there for ages.  Now we go back more than 50 years having met when we were both working in our first jobs in Yeovil Hospital.  We have followed our different paths over the years but the friendship has stood the test of time and distance - she was my bridesmaid, I am godmother to her son, we have much in common and whenever we meet up it is always as if it were only yesterday we saw each other and the conversation picks up where we left off last time.  I think if we saw each other every day we'd still never run out of things to say and our few hours yesterday flew by.

 We parked the car and wandered into town for a bite of lunch - sadly the prices are now many times more expensive than this notice would have you believe.  This was but one of the left-overs from this weekend's filming of Far from the Madding Crowd which were in the process of being dismantled.  The shop which advertised the lovely plum cake tea for just one shilling is in fact a dress shop in real life.

We wandered round to the Abbey where the usual grass area was covered with tarpaulins and topped with earth and gravel - hope the grass will recover though with the current wet weather I am sure it will soon pick up again.  The building with the bell tower you can see above the stumpy pruned trees is the old almshouse.

This board was obviously waiting to be picked up as it had gone by the time I came out of the health shop with my purchase.  I was glad the shop didn't still have the display of pigs heads and such like it had had earlier when it was being filmed as a butcher's shop!

 From this one which is in the process of reverting to its normal facade you will see that the information centre had been a chemist shop for a few days. 

We went in here although not to purchase bread as it is in actual fact a gift and craft shop where we had a nice poke round..

 I was rather pleased with this photo of one of the windows we came across done out as a haberdashers and with a reflection of  the abbey behind.  What stories those Abbey stones could tell if only they could talk!  I remember having all our carol services and such like in the Abbey when I was at school.

This man was busy taking down reams of brown sticky paper which had been used to cover the white paintwork - of course they wouldn't have had brilliant white back in the late 1800s I don't suppose.  As you can see he'd obviously already done the lower window frames - I wonder what they did with the telephone box during the filming?.  It was fascinating to realise just how much preparation had obviously gone into making the sets for the few days filming and how much effort was also entailed in taking it all down and putting everything back to normal.  Sherborne is a lovely town and filled with old golden stone buildings and the area round the Abbey is beautiful as it has no modern buildings to spoil it at all.  It was also used for the filming of Goodbye Mr Chips starring Peter O'Toole and Petula Clark back in 1969 and I remember the station having a different name for the duration.  I dare say they must have removed the signs when a train was due and as it isn't Clapham Junction and the trains are hourly it wouldn't have been too great a problem.  In fact this was about the time when I first met my husband and used to visit him in Surrey where he lived.  I remember being invited to spend Christmas with him and his family and my gift was tickets to see the film I'd seen being made in Sherborne,in Leicester Square!  For more photos and info on the recent filming you might like to visit Leanne's blog Tales of Simple Days .

My friend and I felt we'd enjoyed 3 different periods of time - the 1880s of the film sets, the 1960s of our memories and finally we returned to the present when we paid about 70 times the 1/- mentioned on the poster for our cup of tea and a toasted teacake (they didn't have any bread and butter and plum cake although there were various cakes on the menu).  It was very nice tea though and we enjoyed continuing exercising our tongues as we sat over our slightly more expensive teas - of course we are so much more affluent than we would have been in the 1880s or even in the 1960s so maybe the tea was in fact good value!!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Voila! Or Nearly!

Ages ago I mentioned that I was making a patchwork quilt - I really, really don't know how you quilters manage to make so many quilts in such a short space of time as it seemed to take me forever!  Anyway as today is a bright and sunny day and thus the light was right to photograph my effort I decided to take the photos even though the border isn't quite finished.  I almost left it too late as the sun had gone from the washing line and the only place that was still in full sun was the hedge!  That's Mr M's hand you can just see bottom right holding it down as the wind was trying to blow it away!

  This quilt is the first proper quilt I have ever made - the one I made for the wanderer was simply backed with fleece and not layered like this one.  I was determined not to buy anything to make it and the fabrics are all bits I had - some were given to me by a friend of a friend who was downsizing and getting rid of some of her crafting stuff, some was from projects I had made in the past, and the backing determined the finished size as it was amongst the fabrics I was given and this was its size - 104 cm x 120 cm or 41" x 48" approx.  I was aiming for a completely random effect but now I see that I seem to have finished up with 3 orange squares together bottom left.  Oh well never mind!

 I machine stitched the patches together using reels of thread which I chose when a friend - one of a group of friends with whom I did the City and Guilds Creative Textiles course back in the late 80s and with whom I have stayed in touch - died and her family gave our group all her bits and bobs to see if any of us wanted any of it and I chose her tin of sewing threads along with a couple of skeins of her hand spun vegetable dyed wools.  So apart from the wadding which I originally bought for the wanderer's quilt and then didn't use I have made this totally from what I had.

The blue inner border is made up of strips joined to make a length and I am now wondering if I should perhaps quilt that in some way - maybe lazy daisies or crosses at intervals perhaps or maybe I'll just take the tacking stitches out and leave it.  I hand quilted the whole thing using Perle 8 thread in different colours - thread I already had.  I probably should have done it in both directions or done several rows of stitching but I'd lost the will to live by the time the first single row was done!  I can hear Madame le President, at the Patchwork group I used to go to when I lived in France, tutting at the stitching but then I thought perhaps it added a sort of naive look which went with the random and childlike effect of the patchwork - well that's my story anyway!  As nobody other than me will see it guess it doesn't matter too much anyway and I am quite pleased with it.  I won't be going in for quiltmaking in a big way any time soon though as however much I want to enjoy doing it patchwork doesn't seem to be my metier at all - as I said to the French friend who first encouraged me to join the patchwork group in France I am not accurate enough and I now know that I am also far too slow and I get fed up before I am halfway there!  I am in awe of people who can make quilts on a regular basis and those who go to their patchwork groups every couple of weeks with yet another one finished. 

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Lucky me - Reflections

 Today is the anniversary of my mother's death 12 years ago and Saturday is her birthday - I can't believe that were she still alive she'd be 99 on that day!!  I wrote my tribute to her before here so I won't do it again now.

I am currently reading Martin Sixsmith's book The lost child of Philomena Lee and as it is about a mother's love for her child it seems appropriate reading material for today.

I am finding it really hard to believe that what happens to Philomena, a young pregnant teenager who is sent to a convent to be looked after as a "fallen woman" who is kept a virtual prisoner working at the convent and whose child at the age of 3 was whisked away to be "sold" to America for adoption, happened not hundreds of years ago but in the 1950s when I would have been about 8 years old myself.  Reading the book reminds me how lucky I am that my mother wasn't an Irish Catholic or who knows where I might have ended up (although it's true my mother was not a teenager but in her late 20s when she became pregnant).  Life for my mother was hard but at least she knew her baby was safe!!

According to the book it was believed that children born out of wedlock were fated "to become rebels and to suffer from complexes analogous to those of certain invalids....Such offspring are destined for suffering and often for failure".  The mothers were "grave sinners with severe moral problems.... unfit to have custody of their own children". 

Lucky, lucky me then that I was born to a Methodist Englishwoman whose family were supportive and helped her every way they could.  I couldn't have had a better mother and as far as I could tell she was never a grave sinner with moral problems but simply a young woman who loved too well and paid the price.  Nor have I have ever been a rebel nor suffered from complexes or failure or at least no more than anyone else!  It is a sad thought provoking book though and if Judi Dench is in the film I am sure that too will be worth seeing when it is released.

I have noticed today that there seem to be dozens of ladybirds about on the window sills, in the conservatory and everywhere.  I dare say they are looking for somewhere to hibernate but in France ladybirds are thought of as lucky - so as I said LUCKY ME!

Photos taken at Forde Abbey some while ago

Monday, 14 October 2013

NUMBERS - What do they all mean?

"Numbers are mathematical objects used to count, label and measure".  So far so good.  When you stop to think about it they are perhaps some of the first things we learn - who hasn't taken a small child by the hand and counted when walking up or down steps, or adding apples to a bowl or something?   Without numbers we wouldn't know what the date is (well even with them I often don't know these days!) how far it is from A to B, what time it is or how long it is since or until dinnertime!  Think about it and you will realise, as I did, just how important numbers are in our lives.

Numbers can also be used to create statistics but we all know how unreliable they can be! The numbers which I am thinking of just now are the stats on Blogger and I am wondering what they mean - if anything.  I see from my stats page that certain posts attract many more viewings than others - for example my most viewed post so far is this one about Dorset Buttons which I wrote back in July 2010 and which as I write has had 1490 views but this is fast being outdone by my much more recent post titled Paris - Part 2 which in just 2 weeks has gathered 1290 views.  What do these numbers mean I wonder?  Maybe over a thousand people have viewed my posts and really found them interesting or perhaps it is those robots which then send out spam comments?

How is it that the posts which attract the most views don't seem to attract the most comments? The Paris - Part 2 post which of my recent writings would seem to be viewed the most attracted just 7 comments - why?  Does a view mean anyone has actually read the post or just clicked on it and thought better of it when it came to reading the content?  Maybe I should be glad that I don't receive so many comments these days since the most commented upon posts have been when I suffered with my eye problem and when Bambi died!!

Helsie wrote a post about this recently in which she wondered why her favourite posts didn't always seem to be so popular with other bloggers or to achieve (if that is the right word) the most viewings.

Why does Blogger tell us who has commented but not who has viewed and why do we all have many more followers than ever we get comments - do all these people actually follow our writings or have they dropped off the radar and why do I notice that my number of followers goes up and down - it's not easy to see who has gone unless they are one of the latest followers/lurkers whose icon appears where it's easily seen.

I guess it all just goes to show - but to show what I am not sure!!

PS Why does Blogger keep telling me I am not following any blogs when I am?  Does anyone else get this problem?

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Bus Passes, Boots and Backpacks - yes plural!

I had wondered if it might be possible to do another BBB trip this year but now that October is here and the light evenings are rapidly becoming just a fond memory I thought maybe a day out on the bus and a walk might be a good idea instead.  When I mentioned my idea to Mr M he was willing to come too so, as the forecast for today was for bright sunshine all day, we made our plans and this morning having packed our backpacks with a flask of tea and some sarnies, made with the remains of the bread I'd made yesterday, together with a carton of salad - tomatoes, celery, cucumber and lettuce - along with the map and other essentials we set off to catch the bus into town where we hoped to get another bus to Milborne Port and to do a walk from there. The weather forecasters were right though and the wind was icy having turned overnight and coming now from the north.   By the time the bus trundled up the road we were glad to get on it out of the chill!  I think the temperature was around 8 degrees and set to rise to maybe 12 later but those temperatures didn't take account of the wind chill factor.

We got to town in time to make the connecting bus and the ride from the bus station to Milborne Port brought back many memories as I wondered just how many times I had made the journey by bus as a teenager and in my early 20s.  Last time we came this way there were baskets of apples on offer just here in exchange for a donation to charity and I had hoped that might be the case today but no apples were to be seen which is probably just as well as one or other of us would have had to carry them!

Our route soon left the tarmac roads of the little town and we turned onto a track - it was beautiful walking along here no sound other than the wind soughing in the trees above and the sound of insects - we saw several butterflies, although I doubt they were making any noise - and the crows who were wheeling overhead.  Down in the lane it was warm too out of the biting north wind and my hands finally began to warm up. 

But just look at the colour of that sky - isn't it fabulous?  There is something about an October blue sky which is really special and nothing like a summer one - is it because the light is different now that the sun is lower in the sky perhaps or does it just seem that way as we know there might not be many more of them before the grey skies of winter arrive?

Here and there were gateways into the fields where we could catch a glimpse of the views......

and still our track continued upwards.....

finally the route opened out - how green the fields look don't they?

The clouds were amazing and made shadows which could be seen racing across the fields here and there.  We paused for lunch by a gateway where the scrubby hedgerow bushes gave us some shelter from the wind and in the sunshine it was very pleasant.  Why is it that a cheese sandwich made with yesterday's bread and a slightly stewed cup of tea from a flask tastes so good when eaten out of doors whilst taking a well earned breather?  Eaten at home they wouldn't taste nearly as good.  Whilst we were enjoying our lunch a rider came up leading a second horse and she wanted to pass through the gate which Mr M, who hadn't sat down like me, opened for her.  Horses look enormous when you are sitting on the ground with a cup of tea in your hand!!

Lunch over we packed up the empty flask cartons and wrappings etc and set off again and soon our route descended into this tunnel through the trees - again there were stunning views here and there where we came across a gap in the bushes.

The scenery along this walk was amazing and the greens so verdant, the skies so blue and everything was right in my world for a while.

Autumn is here though and some of the fields were already ploughed and ready for the next crops - this field was filled with rooks but I couldn't get a picture as they all took off as we passed!  On the home straight now and only one more hill to climb and a mile or so to walk - hopefully we will get back in time for the bus as if not we'll have an hour to wait for the next one!

As you can see we got back at 2.45 - the bus was due at 2.52 so good timing.  This building used to house the library and I remember visiting it to change my books over 50 years ago!  That man is not Mr M but another passenger waiting for the bus and apparently the fish and chip shop on the left of the photo is in the process of opening a restaurant so hence the pile of rubbish outside the shop as the work takes place.

The bus arrived on time - same bus and driver who had brought us here this morning.  We got back to Yeovil with quarter of an hour to spare before getting the Nippy bus home to the end of our road.  Kettle on and cuppa made (after feeding Thomas who was waiting) and taken sitting in the last few rays of sunshine in the conservatory by about 4.00.  Another great day out, plenty of exercise and fresh air and as I read on the internet yesterday  "Walking more 'would save thousands" of lives in the UK" we feel we have done our bit to reduce the burden on the NHS too!!