Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Dogs in crates...

So, the kitchen is far from ready for the new units but hey the rustic look dog beds have been built! Riley gives his royal seal of approval! Note that the dogs are extremely educated, they know which bed to get into (ahem, fluke).

Actually I think they look better in real life. Quite sturdy things but not ridiculously heavy. My contribution was the name plaques. We got lucky with the pallet wood required when M spotted a double one in a skip on his way home from work. M is never shy about asking for things from skips. Luckily he managed to get it in the car. The pallet made both beds with a few small pieces left over.

We will be looking out for another pallet... the cat needs a rustic crate bed now! Currently her favourite sleeping spot is on top of the 3/4 height freezer; out of reach of Riley. So as long as the new bed goes up there with a proper wool blanket inside she will be happy.

I'm thinking of having a bit of fun with her crate wording...maybe 'Pest Control Inc.' or 'Handle with Care' or perhaps just 'The Boss'. Any better ideas anyone?

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

to swiff or not to swiff that is the question...

I've been having a bit of a break from 'proper' crochet just lately. What with that nasty cold and the house in disarray (ie. the kitchen contents strewn all over the place) my concentration levels have been zilch. This is when I seem to want to just try out new stitches or new techniques that might come in handy later on.

I saw a retro bath mat on my surfing travels on the net somewhere, I forget why I was surfing for bath mats now, it certainly wasn't because we needed one. Anyway, the caption said it was crocheted. Surely not I thought, it looked like a shag pile carpet. I knew it wasn't a rag rug and so began the search for the method used. Eventually I found something that looked like it... a crocheted swiffer sock! I don't think we call them that in the UK, and if we do then I need to get out more.

The PDF is available on The swiffer sock pattern is definitely not the most glamorous, Linda Permann has some great crochet patterns to choose from. She suggests that acrylic is the best yarn to use because it creates static which is good for attracting dust. Judging by the dust that has migrated into every nook and cranny of the house I need to get cracking on these swiffer socks, and therein lies the problem... they are just too nice to stick on the end of my duster mop thing. I'm going to make three or four strips like I've done for the swiffer sock front and sew them together to make a shaggy cushion front.

I've adapted the pattern after a bit of trial and error. For every row you need crochet a row of trebles first and then chain 7 and double crochet around the post.

As for the duster mop covers; I've made two new ones with a torn up flannelette pillow cover rescued from M's unused paint rag bag. Well who wants to spend hours crocheting a mop cover only to get it filthy? Not me.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Walk, run, swim, sleep...

Riley clearly thinks he is still a puppy. Here he is sleeping like a baby. Every time he sleeps he seems to have a different way of curling up. Note the rope toy has been stashed away in his basket because Harvey showed some interest in it earlier (we've lost the other one already). Likewise Harvey saw that Riley was have some fun with a cooking apple and so...

...touch this cooking apple at your peril! We've walked miles today, across freshly ploughed fields and had to end with a detour to the next village and the clean river. It was biting cold but they still jumped straight in. All that fresh air and exercise made them veeerrryyyy sleeeeepppppyyyyy zzzzzzzzzzzz. Me too!

Monday, 18 November 2013

Making a sequence game...

Well that was the most fun you can have with a pack of cards and a pritt stick!

We played Sequence at the weekend and enjoyed it. I didn't get chance to buy our own before we left so I decided to make one! I knew we had some mini cards from last crhristmas somewhere and I 'borrowed' the cards I put in the children's advent calenders last year. We are using shiny twopences, ten pence pieces and pennies at the moment but I plan to get a cheap set of poker chips when I'm next out and about.

How to make your own Sequence Board Game in three easy steps:

1. Gather two mini packs of cards (they sometimes come in Christmas crackers), two standard sized packs of cards, glue and a large piece of board (I used the back of an old picture frame). You will also need coloured counters, poker chips in three different colours are ideal, about 45 of each.

2. Google the Sequence board layout and stick all the mini cards down on the board accordingly.

3. Learn how to play using the rules on Wikipedia.

You can play individually up to three players or in teams with four or more players as long as the number is even. Dd that make any sense? Having tried both ways I think it's more fun with teams. It will be something new for Christmas when we're all too tired to play Trivial Pursuit!

Sunday, 17 November 2013


Can I have a proud Mum moment? This pic was sent to me by email over the weekend, from Ella, who had just completed this painting for her art homework. Fabulous or what? It's even more amazing close up. I think we have an artist in the family!

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Bexhill on-Sea...

Greetings from the south coast! I was up early on our first morning here with just one thing in mind; a coastal walk. It's quite nice staying with one relative in Bexhill and walking a few miles along the seafront to another one. I'd quite happily do this every day if I lived here.

There were plenty of dog walkers, joggers, couples, tourists, work men having a crafty cup of tea outside one of the promenade cafes. Oh I did envy the dog walkers not having to contend with ploughed fields and the large quantity of mud that comes home with the dogs. Last time I walked along this route there was a group of people doing T'ai Chi outside the De La Warr Pavilion. What a great view they had.

The five hour drive was tiring so we decided to have a leisurely day. Those who wanted to browse the charity shops and antique shops did so and those that didn't drank coffee and read the weekend papers on the balcony of the De La Warr. We all met up there after our bargain hunting by which time it was t shirt weather up there.

The charity shops down here are very well stocked, I'll be going home with a new shirt, cardigan and basket (you can never have too many baskets!). Not to mention an original 1960s fruit basket, which I will photograph at some stage. It might end up on ebay if it doesn't look right at home. The furniture was all pretty interesting but sadly we didn't travel down in a van!

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Walking companions...

I'm really finding dog walking very therapeutic at the moment. Probably also something to do with the mild weather. We've been out on some very long walks lately and I've been purposely conquering the routes that I've previously avoided. Some are very remote and eerily quiet, some are near horses (neither dog seems bothered or interested in horses but you never know) and some walks are total mud baths for the dogs.

Today we did yesterday's walk backwards. Instead of walking along a clean path to the woods, getting filthy and walking back through ploughed fields (even more filthy) we started off with the ploughed fields, headed to the woods and ended up walking back along a clean path stopping off at a fabulous bit of stream which, as you can see above, you can see the bottom of. A cunningly disguised bath and off we trotted home with the wind providing a partial blow dry. Oh yes, we've got it all worked out now. No need for a cold hose down outside the back door.

Riley isn't as keen on water as Harvey. He seems to think that if you charge through the water very fast then it won't be as cold, he might have a point there. They are both shivering now despite their nice warm beds.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Off the hook...oatmeal baby cardigan

Woohoo! A finished project! I had some lovely oatmeal aran weight yarn in my wool cupboard and hoped it would make a nice baby garment. It's quite light, with a part wool content but washable.

I loved this free pattern (see below for link). It starts with a square yoke and the eyelet rows are quite simple. The rest of the cardigan was supposed to be done using the back loop only but on close inspection of the photograph supplied I didn't like the effect it produced so crocheted as normal through both loops.

I checked the tension before I started this time! Typically it was spot on with my wool choice and hook size.

I was going to use three little wooden buttons but Ella said it was too fussy. She's probably right. I did cause her to screw her face up when I said she would have looked very cute in it when she was 6 months old. Seriously, fifteen year olds do not want to reminisce about their baby days.


Spring cleaning my photo's...

E thinks it's terrible to store so many photographs on my iPad and she's probably right. I do sometimes forget to delete the photo's that don't get used on my blog and the multiples. I've got a few thousand at the moment and I'm gradually going through them.

This morning I came across some pics from a day out we had in August that I didn't blog about at the time. The date tells me this would have been after the two cricket weeks. I can't imagine how we had any energy left after all that travelling, or that we wanted to do anything other than stay at home but venture out we did, to The Hub in Sleaford. A crafts council gallery.

These visits tend to be a bit bit and miss and if I'm honest are of more interest to me than to M or the children. Luckily our first ever visit here, just M and I, was hugely inspirational to M and he has not been reluctant to go back again and again. I can't remember the name of the travelling exhibition but I know that Lucy Casson's work featured; reclaimed tin figures. Automata in wood and tin, I can't remember who by. It was a sort of fairytale type theme. I really should look it up.

Anyway, on this occasion there seemed to be something for everyone. M was intrigued by this woodwork cabinet (see above). He stood looking at it for quite some time.

E was fascinated by this fabric moth. Some of them featured feathers and plant matter. They were quite large, about the size of your head, so pretty freaky things to be near.

I liked these 'weavings' made with found materials, twigs and cotton. This photo doesn't do it justice at all. The artist painted the twigs which I wasn't sure I liked but the overall effect was quite striking. Had I been exposed to this kind of thing as a child I would most definitely have had a go myself.

I couldn't work out whether this item was crochet, tatting, weaving... It was extremely fine cotton thread. I wish I'd photographed the others in this series too.

...and J was impressed with this curtain swing seat. Boys! He would have liked to have tested it to its limit but I managed to pursuade him not to.

Sleaford presents a little challenge when it comes to eating out. We gave up on this occasion and found a fish and chip shop on the way home. At least I introduced them to some culture for half of the day!

Now back to my Hoover and duster. Inspired by a programme about OCD cleaners I thought it was about time I tackled the builders dust that has settled on every surface throughout the whole house. Luckily I am somewhere in the middle between the OCD cleaners (like my bits and bobs arranged a certain way) and the 'haven't cleaned in a decade' (I give myself a few days off here and there).

Monday, 11 November 2013

Kitchen update...

Hooray! Plastering is finished! I'm no longer smoking forty a day. Woohoo. No offence to smokers, I'm just one of those people whose throat seems to disagree with smoke of all kinds.

Look at that wall! Isn't that a lovely sight? Especially after looking at bare plasterboard for a month or so. Just a little more drying out time and M and I will begin the big paint job.

In the meantime this is how the room is looking. A few salvaged wall cupboards for food storage. Luckily Harvey and Riley are not the scavenger types. Susie, our black cocker spaniel when we were children would have had any morsel of food, however large or small, quicker than you could say 'chocolate Christmas tree decorations'. Oh yes, that Christmas was a sad one indeed. You can just see the corner of Ella's old lime green bedroom rug. We've been through the green stage and now we have moved on to black. The dogs, to date, haven't mentioned the vile colour of the rug they've inherited.

On the other side you can see my newly refashioned sink. Note that this model does not have a plug hole. The drain is just outside and won't be too much trouble for a while. It was better than having the horror of the old granite sink which wasn't covered up when the plastering was done, let's just say it was beyond saving.

The worst of my cold is over thank goodness, Saturday was not a good day. All that's needed now is a box of tissues nearby and plenty of Redbush tea. Mind you, I sometimes wish I was the type to swig a stiff drink. The therapeutic qualities may help on days like these. It seems we have a full blown school phobia to contend with. Not an easy one.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Road to nowhere...

What a glorious morning! I'm introducing Riley to all our favourite routes and today we did the long one that goes across quite a few fields then comes out on this farm track. The track eventually leads to our very own nature reserve which is quite remote by this stage, which is how I like it when the dogs are covered from head to toe in wet mud.

I turned back at the edge of the reserve today because I've gone down with a stinking nasty cold. Unfortunately someone else decided on a nice walk up to the nature reserve today and she was rather smartly dressed in a nice tweed jacket. I knew the dogs wouldn't bother her or bark but they did race by at 90 miles an hour and sprayed up a bit of mud. She didn't seem too disturbed thank goodness.

At one point in the walk I tried to get them to both sit for a photo. No chance. So this is Riley having a good sniff in the field...

...and this is Harvey complete with mud coloured undercarriage. Springers are best photographed when they are asleep.

...and this is my substitute beach combing, field treasure! I've got quite a collection of these fragments now. I really must set them into something.

My trip to Sussex is on hold until next week. Right now I just want to hibernate until the cold is gone. My concentration span is zilch so I'm not even crocheting.

The last wall is being plastered today. It means we can have a good sweep up and wipe down later. It's been pretty stressful this stage. Very difficult to stop the dust being trodden through the house, but I have the end in mind and I know it will all be worth it.

Harvey and Riley will have to have a bath later. Usually the last swim of the walk gets rid of the mud but today it didn't. I'm sure Harvey would agree that it was worth it. About to find out what Riley thinks of having a shower!

Thursday, 7 November 2013

My pastry shirt...

M had to go to Derby police station for a short job today. I decided to join him on the basis that we'd be back before school ended and the alternative was staying home and passively smoking forty cigarettes a day. Cough cough. The plasterer is doing a fabulous job but every day when he leaves we have to spray the entire house, it wafts through from the open back door where he smokes. I don't know what they are but they reek.

So, I got dropped in Derby city centre, feeling rather like a country mouse in the big city. Well it has been a while since I shopped anywhere but locally to us. I remembered where the majority of the charity shops were located and got stuck in; it is pretty competitive bargain hunting these days.

My first find was a lovely shirt, in natural linen colour, with a grandad collar (I love these). The charity shop had attached a label saying 'Pastry £3.30'. On closer inspection the shirt label actually said 'Poetry', a quite pricey brand of clothing. I told M and he suggested we call it my pastry shirt from now on.

My next find was a brand new pair of cotton pj bottoms. Another £2.50. No idea what brand but they feel like good quality.

Another pottery mug for my collection. M doesn't mind that we have quite a few now, they do get broken from time to time. This one set me back 20p.

Sorry about these dark photos btw, I had all the lights on in the bedroom but they are still dull and grainy. I spotted this crochet book in the window of Oxfam. It was only £1.99 and quite honestly there is nothing in there that I would necessarily make. It's a strange book, I've bought it mainly out of curiosity, for inspiration and the rug section at the end, since I've been thinking about rugs lately, but that's a story for another day.

I shall be leaving the husband and children and dogs, and cat, to their own devices for a few days and taking a short trip 'home'. I've been washing clothes and packing my little brown vintage suitcase. I've had the suitcase for over twenty years now I guess. I can remember the day I bought it, in Sussex, like it was yesterday. I was at a table top sale with my grandparents and I spotted it and handed over £3 for it. Grandad was nearby and said, 'what do you want that old thing for?' Followed by, '£3? They saw you coming girl!' Here we are twenty plus years later and it's still perfect for a few nights away. I liked it for its boxiness. So much easier to pack with straight sides don't you think?

So, as I'm packing my £3 jeans, my £3 shirt and my £2.50 pj bottoms into my £3 suitcase it suddenly occurred to me that if I'd carried on buying things for £3 since buying that suitcase I'd be quite well off by now!

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

One down and three to go...

Yep still looks like a building site. Ah, but there is progress, albeit painfully slow...

That front wall is now plastered! Not only that but it also has a brand new radiator! Woohoo. It's connected to our bedroom radiator so we've not had heating in our bedroom for a week or so and it's been flipping cold.

Mollie is not impressed with this at all. She is quite disturbed that her little food corner is splattered with plaster; this is the view of one of the unfinished wall which is opposite. That's Mollie waiting patiently for her dinner.

Riley turned out to be a not so helpful builder's mate this morning. He stole a tape measure, chisel and packet of plumbing clips and stashed them in his bed. What a magpie! I did try and tell him off but it was difficult to keep a straight face with him lying on top of his little haul.

I did a spot of charity shopping this morning, just to get out of the way for a bit. I came home with some very random purchases. A brand new, still in the packet, navy superking valance for £3.50. It just so happens that we have a superking bed and no valance since M put his foot through ours and ripped it. Don't ask me how. I've always hated valances because they are a bit too close to frills for my liking but this one has simple box pleats at each corner, so not too fussy. What a find, just as we needed one as well.

I added two more pottery mugs to our collection. I go for hand thrown so each one has a character of its own. I try and stick to the matt glazes but sometimes the shiny ones are quite nice too. They were more popular in the 70s so I find them for about 50p.

Lastly, a top by Brora. Quite an expensive make new (I sometimes get their pamphlets in Country Living) but a bargain at £2.50. It's a jersey material, with a thin jade and grey stripe. I'll wear anything as long as it goes with jeans!

I also bought another packet of sugar. The guy doing our plastering takes three in his black coffee! Blurgh.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Pampered pets...

How cute is Milo? Love the vintage crate look and the matching toy box! Someone is going a bit far here, since when does a dog have that many toys?

I'm going to try and pull off an urban rustic kind of look in our new kitchen so naturally the dog beds will need rethinking. Actually it's more to do with the fact that they are both in huge palstic beds that we were given, suitable for a large Labrador at least, when actually they are just small working spaniels.

Next up is something from, kind of appropriate since we are having an IKEA kitchen...

Harvey will sleep anywhere in anything so I can see him liking this. If you saw them after their woodland walk and swim this afternoon you'd know that this white cupboard would not stay white for long.

The white washed one is featured on a site called The article includes ten DIY dog beds. If we had this design we'd have to use castors with brakes, can you imagine the fun they'd have without brakes!

Last but not least, and my personal favourite for the really ridiculous factor...

On the plus side we could lay our hands on some logs like these, on the down side I can't see Harvey or Riley learning how to climb up a ladder, and there could be arguments over the top bunk of course. (This one is featured on a site called

On the subject of dogs, we received some puppy photo's from Riley's previous owners last night. M was all joked up about their plight and said, 'Crikey, this is like adopting a baby!' It isn't really, not that we'd know but Riley isn't showing any outward signs of being traumatised and he seems pretty happy falling asleep on our laps having his head stroked. They are happy he's found the right kind of home.

Breezy, wet weekend waffle...

Aw, Harvey finally decided to let Riley share some sofa time. Note that they are sparkly clean for this thanks to a spot of pebble bottomed river splashing (as opposed to our mud bottomed river).

At the end of our very long garden to one side lives a woodturner. From time to time we find fish carcasses, chicken bones and various bits of pig thrown over his fence into the back field. Apart from attracting rats and goodness knows what else it's a bit of a nuisance for our dogs. Apart from the dubious age of the food, things like chicken bones can be a choking hazard. Harvey has been trained from a puppy to leave it all alone but Riley thinks it's bonus dinner time! This morning I had to wrestle half a pig from his mouth, ok, well I exaggerate a little, but it was a large strip with extremely thick skin on it and hairs still on it, urgh, gross.

We had the coarse plaster applied to fill all the big holes and channels where the new wiring has been fitted. The kitchen really doesn't look all that different hence my lack of kitchen update posts. Once the smooth plaster goes on, which starts on Monday it will begin to look like progress is being made. Once dry we plan to paint everything white and then lay the floor. The thought of having a proper floor that is not bare concrete is pretty exciting. It is a bugger to sweep mud from concrete I can tell you!

So this is how the far wall looks. The new fuse box will be hidden in a wall cupboard. The rather strangely placed double socket is for the microwave and coffee machine.

This pic shows the ceiling rough plastered over where the wall came down. The whole ceiling will be smooth plastered next week too so that will mean removing most of the contents of the kitchen once again. I've lost track of how many times stuff has gone out and come back in again.

The rest of the room looks pretty much the same as these pics. We are having fun deciding where to fit two medium sized dog beds. There's the hall or the kitchen, but I don't really want the two enormous plastic beds we've acquired because they are a bit of an overkill, neither dog needs the space they provide and we will no doubt keep tripping over the darn things. I will show you the ideas we've come up with in my next post. From the sublime to the ridiculous!

Friday, 1 November 2013


Messy work going on in the kitchen. Big holes being filled with sticky brown stuff, otherwise known as plaster. The only place I can sensibly retreat to is our living room/conservatory. Just happens to be where I keep my crochet works in progress.

I've recently caught up with a pal of mine and she has a wee baby boy. Having visited for tea and a big catch up I think I've sussed out her taste in colours, oh and the baby was seriously gorgeous. I had these wool with merino balls with baby clothes in mind because it's a really soft blend. It's making the softest blanket and it's surprisingly good to work with. I've got two of each colour, eight balls, so I will just keep working the traditional granny squares until I run out. I'm using join as you go with the darkest blue so hopefully it will do for baby age and a bit beyond.

It was really good to meet up after about five years, it made me think how easy it is to lose touch with people, and how good it is to have friends.