Thursday, 29 August 2013


I've been doing rather more browsing crochet than actually doing any just lately. This diamond shaped motif caught my eye when I first flicked through a book of throws and afghans (an American book) most probably because I really like tweedy yarn.

I thought I'd work up a motif to see how quick and easy they were. First attempts were a disaster and I ended up leaving it for a few months. I had another stab at it yesterday and it was quite simple. I decided to make five more motifs after the first one just to make a star shape. Each one is slightly different from the one before, and by the time I got to number six I had simplified the pattern but got the same shape.

Here is the final star unblocked and not edged. I worked this up in cotton with a mat in mind. I'm really not a doily/mat kind of person, I just wanted to conquer the pattern! It's a good versatile shape but I don't think I will be making the throw after all. Join as you go was a bit fiddly. On one of the joins I carried on right round the pointy bit of the star because I was daydreaming, as you do. That's why I love crochet, it's a doddle to unravel the mistakes!

Here it is still unblocked but with a white edge. I think I'll finish with another jade round before I call it finished. Then I'm done with diamonds!

The book is called 'Undercover, 60 Afghans to Knit and Crochet' by Sixth&Spring Books, New York.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Feeling old...

If you ever decide to join the local women's cricket team out of the blue, just bear in mind that walking the dog does not equal fitness for the job!

Ow, ow and ow. I don't think there is a part of my body that isn't suffering after yesterday's debut! My ring finger won't bend after an awkward catch (sadly not taken during the match but as a result of a very strenuous warm up). My left ankle has a swelling the size of a tennis ball. I'm not even sure how that happened but I did some sprinting which is probably not sensible after such a long absence from sport in general.

Apart from the aches and pains I did enjoy myself very much. Cricket wasn't one of my serious sports when I was younger but I wish it had been. I did athletics quite seriously for a number of years, golf came later. I loved Hockey and Netball at school. I never turned down an offer to play squash or badminton. Cricket was only ever a garden or beach thing really. Apart from being plonked in the under 19s county girls squad for Sussex when I was 15 and feeling totally out of my depth!

I had a quick crash course from Jake the day before. One of the handiest things he taught me was how to block. I wish I had put that into action when the time came instead of panicking and trying to hit a Yorker! I smacked one ball for two runs and got two singles too. I was a bit annoyed with myself because I know I could have done much better, but as M said, it has been 29 years since I last played in a match!

Fielding was absolutely tiring. I ran here there and everywhere picking up the whacking great shots the opponents were playing. I shouldn't really have been running from fine leg to fine leg but I didn't want to mention it, me being the newcomer. I was happy to be in a position where the team could make use of my ability to throw a long way. The last match I watched them play it took them three fielders to get the ball back to the stumps!

It's pretty much the end of the season now so I have plans to step up the fitness levels over the winter and then join next years training sessions. This time I was only making up the numbers. What finally persuaded me I wouldn't make an idiot of myself was knowing that they had three grandmothers on the team! Not that the grandmothers made idiots of themselves!

Meanwhile, I am recovering in the garden with my ankle raised on a cushion, undertaking a pastime that is definitely more suited to my fitness levels...

Monday, 19 August 2013

miles and miles of tiles...

M and I had to run an errand today, a very boring one, but we managed to liven up the day by also visiting The Old Tile Works in Barton, North Lincolnshire. As you can see it is nestled almost underneath the Humber Bridge. The walls are all made of tiles which are quite stunning.

This site has only opened this year and has a restaurant, workshops and shops; pottery, jam maker, natural wool. M failed to steer me away from the natural wool workshop, it was quite an interesting browse. Locally sourced wool, naturally dyed, right up my street but sadly I couldn't justify a splurge.

Seeing all the lovely thrown pots drying out made me think about dusting my potters wheel off, but if the truth be known I am kind of waiting for the children to leave home before doing something that requires time, space and concentration!

We had a lovely lunch and it was an interesting place to visit, I think we will be going again; hoping they will have stocked up on the sweet potato chips by then!

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Home from the hills...

Malvern was a pleasant surprise. Despite living in Oxford for a number of years and visiting Stratford Upon Avon, Evesham, Cheltenham (all of which seem remarkably close on the map) I don't think I've ever passed through Worcester or Malvern.

Above shows the campsite. Our caravan isn't in the photo but it does show the view we woke up to every day. It was a 40 acre farm with only five caravan pitches and ten places for tents. We had a huge amount of room to ourselves which was perfect for a few games of silly cricket, just as long as we kept the ball out of the sheep field.

This time Ella had the privilege of staying at Malvern College while Jake stayed with us at the campsite. E is a bit of a home bod so she was a bit wobbly when we dropped her off, she hardly had time to miss us because the three days of cricket were pretty full on. Breakfast was at 8am and they were all outside doing warm ups and training exercises by 9.30am. Matches finished about 6pm. It was pretty tiring for us too.

Ella's first match was at Malvern College itself, but the following two were 'up in the mountains' at Colwell CC. We just drove up and up and went round several hair pin bends and finally found this two pitch site, which was a typically British village cricket club, complete with wooden clubhouses.

My iPod took rubbish shots because the light levels weren't ideal. It was a bit overcast. I did take some photos on my proper camera but that will involve downloading onto my old laptop and emailing to myself to use them on my iPad. Such a faff.

Ella took three wickets over the three days which she was absolutely chuffed to bits about. Jake got quite worried on the last match when she took two wickets. He said she was allowed to have a threefer but if she got a fourfer or fifer then he wouldn't be happy because he'd never had a fifer. Ella also got some runs when she went in at number ten (they only had ten players) so she was also pleased about that because she doesn't often get to bat.

I took some woolly projects with me and didn't knit a single stitch. Typical. I did read Rose Tremain's 'Sacred Country' which I picked up purely because I had enjoyed 'The Road Home'. It wasn't a theme I thought I'd particularly enjoy but it was an enjoyable read. I loved the characters.

Ella joined us for the last night in the caravan. She was totally and utterly exhausted so when I started reading out the first page of my next book aloud just to tell M about it she came over to our bed and curled up in the middle and asked me to carrying on reading aloud. At 15 years old there probably won't be many more moments like that.

I bought 'The Hundred Year Old Man who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared' when it was 20p on Kindle books. As usual I'm reading it long after all the fuss about it has died down, this is partly due to not being a total Kindle convert. The trouble is that it is all too easy to pick up a good book for 50p at a charity shop (like my last book). Although in its favour I have read some good books on Kindle and one or two have been completely free. I'm giving it another go on the basis that I can have the typeface a bit bigger which means the reading specs can stay in their case!

Friday, 9 August 2013

I'm so lonely...

Mollie always managed to express her distaste for being left 'home alone' one way or another. Her usual tactic is to go on a killing spree, leaving mainly dead mice in her wake. This time was no exception. She left a large dead vole on the front drive. It must have been killed on day one. It was in a bad state. Yuk.

She was a bit sulky when we returned. We unpacked the caravan first. Then we discovered that the electricity was off, probably during one of the electrical storms, so we had to dispose of six black sacks of defrosted food from both the fridge and the freezer. Then finally we tried to find her to feed her and she was having a nap next to her concrete friend. I think she might have been trying to tell us something!

Thursday, 8 August 2013

He's my brother...

It's a sign of the times when a sister can say on Facebook words she wouldn't necessarily say to her little brother.

Ella posted this photo and wrote these words:

"Look grim and finally I'm shorter than my little brother but today was the last day of Jake's cricket festival where the opposing side needed only five runs to win whereas we needed our final wicket. On the last ball of his over he took that wicket and our team went on to win the game and come second in the entire tournament. I know how hard he works to open the bowling for Lincolnshire and I can honestly say I've never been so proud, well done Jake."

Aw, brought a tear to my eye that did.

Holbrook Festival...

Five solid days of cricket, 45 overs per game. Happy days! Tired? Not me.

We have just returned from the Holbrook Festival in Suffolk. Four fabulous days of sunshine and one of slightly cooler weather, necessitating jumpers and blankets and eventually cramming into a beach shelter to keep out of the cold wind.

As well as these long matches the boys swim, play tennis and mess about each evening. Jake looked like a zombie by day two but somehow managed to play some excellent cricket.

The last match was very tense and exciting. With both teams parents getting up on their feet and clapping their encouragement. Jake had quite a bit of pressure when Buckinghamshire needed 5 runs off 2 overs to win and Lincolnshire needed to get two wickets for extra points. He'd bowled some earlier overs giving very few runs away (8 overs for 8 runs for 3 wickets by the end of the game). He was called up for the second to last over and bowled a Yorker with his first ball, taking the stumps out of the ground to rapturous applause from his team mates and Lincolnshire's supporters. (I was biting my nails inside the beach shelter). He then bowled four dot balls. Then on his last ball of the over the batsman swiped and thin edged the ball into the air and down into the wicket keepers gloves; Jake's final wicket and a double wicket maiden. He got hugs from lots of mothers and pats on the back from fathers. It was a proud moment.

We came second overall out of ten counties, including a team from The Netherlands. Norfolk won.

I am so brown that people will be asking where I've been this summer! I did absolutely no crochet whatsoever. It was as much as I could do to get up, pack picnics, watch cricket, come home, eat and fall fast asleep. It's all the fresh air!

It's quite nice to be home even though I enjoy the caravan. The house seems more spacious than before and I am back in the land of luxury with a washing machine and dishwasher!

Once all the washing is done we are off to another cricket festival, this time for E.