Thursday, 25 December 2008
Monday, 22 December 2008
I had raised the topic at one of our knitting group's evenings some time ago, and was delighted to hear last Tuesday, that another member had had a great result when she decided that she would check her situation. She found out that she already had over 30 qualifying years and could stop her voluntary contributions.....£30 per month is a lot of yarn which can now be stashed away, or of course there are other treats or savings which this can be put to.
Recently the government has changed the number of qualifying years for full state pension to 30. Years not at work but looking after children, I think after 1978, when the woman's name was on the 'child allowance book' do count but you need to claim these. So if you are paying voluntary contributions or know someone who is, it is worth checking your individual records. You will be sent a pension forecast, so do ring up 0845 300168. You will need your National Insurance Number. You can also go on line for a forecast. Unless you check and know exactly where you stand you could continue to pay when there is no need to. You can also find out whether it is worth paying for any incomplete years to make up to full pension. The rates will be going up after April 2009, so it is probably best to get things sorted out sooner rather than later.
There may be of course some chaps, who may have thought they would not have a full pension due to missing years. No credits are given for years at University and with early retirement, and no work some men will also benefit from this change, so they may also be pleasantly surprised by the results of a current check on their future state pension benefits.
Decorating the tree is the ideal time to open the special VERY BIG box of Maltesers, which Mr S brought home on Friday evening. I love them, and it is very difficult to have only one, isn't it? There are still some left for the remaining days before Christmas!
I needed something to get me in to the Christmas mood, so wondered whether Mr S would like to come and sing some carols with me at the Castle. Its an unusual request from me as those who know me very well indeed, know that I am not a singer. Although I definitely need singing lessons, I really do like to sing, though I can get a big lump in my throat and even a small tear when singing carols.
There were groups of people and some with at least three generations, some had lanterns and wonderful hats. A group of younger boys were rushing round and jumping off ruined walls, and cute little girls were parading around in fancy hats and gloves etc. I looked around to see whether my friend Mandy was there with her family. Mandy had knitted some fabulous hats last year, and what a place to parade in them. However little did I know then that was the last place she would be as she was undergoing a medical emergency, but thankfully she is now on the mend.
Next year, I would love to take some friends there and have supper here afterwards, or tea before, which will be a lovely start to the Christmas festivities.
Wednesday, 10 December 2008
Here I spent a couple of hours marvelling at the collection of ribbons and woven artifacts dating from the 18Th Century, and was intrigued to find out that Coventry was the centre of woven silk ribbons for over a century. My interest in woven items has been growing over the last couple of years, and in Venice this year I was amazed at the woven silks and ribbons which they used in period dresses.
I mentioned the Ribbon Exhibition at the WI craft group, and several of my friends there were able to tell me more about the items that Cash produced.
I was disappointed that the shop at the Herbert did not have any of Cash's items for sale. It is very strange that where they have a wonderful exhibition, there are not items for sale. Where there is a local item of such excellent quality, I feel it ought to be really showcased and that people around must be really proud. I think we must support British Made items of such quality, and enjoy them and ensure that such companies continue to prosper.
This is the start of my collection of woven silk pictures. The first in middle is that of a Peregrine Falcon. I picked this up at a bring and buy coffee morning. The next two, I bought as second hand items from a Furniture Shop in Kenilworth. The detail is superb: the fluffy white feather on the robin's breast look as if the wind is blowing them about, and the designer has managed to capture the stillness of the moment on the Kingfisher woven picture. I'm hoping to receive Cash's book marks as birthday presents in the future, well I dropped a big hint to Mr S, hope he was listening.
Cash is still in business and produces name tapes and items such as bookmarks and greeting cards. This past weekend I was delighted to find some at the Coventry Transport Museum. Veronica and I marvelled at the current collection. The design, details and the colours are really beautiful. I picked up two booklets: Silken Weave, A History of Ribbon Making in Coventry from 1770 to 1860, and Still Weaving - J and J Cash Ltd of Coventry. These two booklets are excellent sources on the history of a craft and the effect that the industry has had on the character and development of a City.
Tuesday, 2 December 2008
Wednesday, 26 November 2008
Monday, 24 November 2008
Sunday, 23 November 2008
Anna from Web of Wool suggested I put a couple of drops of hair conditioner in the rinsing water when preparing my new Lace Triangle/Tucker ready for its stretch on my wires. Here it is drying in the conservatory. The design is one based on the techniques explained by Evelyn Clark her booked called Knitting Lace Triangles. I've had the yarn for a couple of years now and was the first of consignments from the shawl club from Poshyarn. It is a lovely shade of Lavender and is warm and soft.
Saturday, 15 November 2008
- First time down to London from Kenilworth on my own. Jolly pleased with myself as I managed to get some very cheap train tickets on line. I even managed to update some software called Adobe so that I could print off the tickets.
- Fine weather meant Vickie and I had a lovely walk around her locality, it is almost like a village and even has a wonderful church.
- Got to taste some delicious home cooking and excellent bread, succulent partridge , and a 'surprise soup' at lunch time which I have already cooked at home, and has Mr S's approval.
- Visited Poilane with Vickie, and was shown round the bakery including their wood burning oven. Due to a hopefully temporary downturn in restaurant bookings, the morning bake on Thursday was suspended and all we could see was the mother in the mixer, and no actual bread being baked. Annie, the bakery manager was very informative. Bought some goodies back which were enjoyed although, bless him, Mr S said my bread was more to his liking.
- Visited the Wallace Collection and had lunch there with Vickie in their restaurant which is light and bright and in the inner court yard which has been glassed over. Looked at some wonderful rooms with their silks and stunning chandeliers and found the Oval Drawing Room and the picture of the Swing by Fragonard.
- Vickie knows the area well as she used to live just off Marylebone High Street, and it was a treat to see the wonderful food and cloth shops. We walked and talked and admired the wonderful architecture during a walk from there to the Railway station.
Monday, 10 November 2008
Here are the wild daffodil and the Tenby Daffodil side by side, with my wedding ring to give some scale. It is a little late for planting the bulbs, but I wanted to get some in the ground. , and the wild ones I've planted in the back garden and in pots. The supply of the wild ones is very restricted and a little too costly, and it seems that the Tenby Daffodil which naturalises easily and also seeds, is the optimum for growing in grass. Just because I really wanted these and the growers were out of stock, I did manage to find a good wild flower supplier, but at a price!
I've contacted the growers in Wales and hope to be able to distribute the bulbs at cost to any groups in Kenilworth who wish to plant out verges, green areas, school grounds etc. I need to get my order in early, so will be contacting people early next year to gauge the amounts required.
I've done my research and contacted various bodies with more to do on that front. Having spoken with a Kenilworth worthy, he suggested that I do this in conjunction with Kenilworth in Bloom, and open this to the whole town. I'm looking forward to the next Committee meeting where I shall put forward my case. To promote my new pet project, I am planting some clumps of daffodils, which I hope will be flowering next spring when I want to launch the Kenilworth Daffodil Project.
The rain held off, so off we trotted early this time, as last time we were one of the late ones who held up the show! This time there were loads of people with tickets and the queues for cash were much shorter, the reverse of last year, and chatting to the next people, found out that for the first time one could download tickets from the Internet and it seemed to them that there were many more people this year.
We found a nice vantage point, and enjoyed the start of the show. There were loads of bangs and ows of admiration, but about ten minutes from the end, the drops got larger and larger, and I could feel the trickles down my neck. The consensus was that we head home. David walked as fast as he could, as he did not feel like running. The pace was such that every few steps, I had to jog a little, and we both splashed our way home. Anyone who knows how much taller David is, can picture the image of my trotting along to keep up!
Remember to take the camera
Take a torch
Take a large umbrella
Sunday, 2 November 2008
On Friday I stayed home after a hectic day on Thursday looking around Coventry and coming home with new curtains. I looked through all my recipe books for ginger biscuits, but somehow I did not have all the ingredients required so improvised and this recipe has now been written up as otherwise, I can't be convinced that I will remember it quite the same next time.
I would have been happy to give the Twixes away and have the biscuits. We had so many callers, all really well dressed and very well behaved, and nice to see that younger ones were accompanied by parents, that almost all the biscuits and Twixes went. I'll be making a second batch of my biscuits very soon.
Here is the recipe, and if you make them up, do let me know whether you like them. Next time I make them, I'll take a picture to post.
Noelle's Trick & Treat Biscuits.
170 g Plain Flour, sieved with 1/2 tsp baking powder & 1/2 tsp salt, together with the following spices: 1 tsp ground ginger, 1tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg, 1/2 tsp ground cloves
Melt 110g butter and add 110 g caster sugar and 85g dark muscavado sugar.
When it is cooler, add 1 beaten egg, and 5 pieces of crystallised ginger finely chopped.
Combine the dry and liquid ingredients, and allow to cool a little and roll into approx 35 small balls, place on baking parchment and flatten with a fork. Bake in a preheated oven No 2/3 for twenty minutes. They cook very evenly, and when cool if they do not seem that they are crisp enough, they can go back in the oven for a little longer. When baked at this lower temperature there is less risk of them catching.
My trick in these biscuits were the pieces of ginger. Most of the children nibbled on them straight away and all of them thought they were lovely, and appreciated a home made effort.
Wednesday, 29 October 2008
Tuesday is my fun day but nothing seemed to go well: I missed my pilates class as I was on the PC upstairs and was checking a clock with the wrong time, then I burnt my toast for my lunch, and finally just as I was ready to go out, it started to hail very slightly. There was a note left to say the postman had tried to deliver a parcel put through the door when I was rescuing my laundry.
To save my washing I rushed out and brought it in to hang on airers with the dehumidifier on. By the time that was done, the hailstones got heavier. I took a picture, but was till determined to go out. My bike was ready to go but I wondered whether I could cycle through the slush and would have turned round if it was unsafe.
By the time I had got to my destination, I was pretty cold and fairly wet, but the afternoon spent crafting amongst friends was just what I needed. My jeans sat drying on the radiator, and despite offers to ferry me back home by a kind hearted friend I braved the driving snow, and cycled home. It was straight into a hot bath, and then a nice snuggle down for me. David did not get home till 7 just a few miles took over an hour due to the gridlock out of the University.
I didn't have time to stow the washing line away during the snow storm, and by mid morning, the icicles were dripping.
This morning the snow was still lying around, and the second lot of washing would not really dry over the icicles so that went onto the airers too. It was amazing to see snow in October with leaves still on the shrubs and flowers such as geraniums peeping through. Of course they will be all frosted now and ready to be dispatched to the compost heap.
with the brushing wax and much polishing.
Mercia Carpets from Kenilworth supplied and fitted the carpets. We had the same throughout the house, including the conservatory. There was one piece for the living and dinning room, and although there is a wall and door between them, they used one piece so as to have no strip. This was David's idea to help the flow between the rooms. We had the carpets fitted on three days, with time in between for us to move furniture around.
The outer skin was grey, but when cut through the wonderful green and orange colours were wonderful. Slow roasted with onions, garlic and olive oil, it yielded soft and tasty flesh which we had in various ways: as a hot vegetable on day 1, mixed with roasted red pepper etc with olives on roasted bread, then in a pilaf, and finally whizzed up into a soup.
Monday, 13 October 2008
Following on from that I've picked up another book, set in the area of France just across the Pyrenees from my sister Jenny. I am just getting into 'Happy Hour' by Patrice Chaplin. I am now getting to grips with the balustrade in the hallway, and am going to try using a brush on wax. I need to do a small test piece.
Last Thursday & Friday, I used several pints of elbow grease/wax and boiled linseed oil to revive my chests of drawers which were covered with rain spots. We had a severe thunder storm I think it was some time early last year, anyway it was in Swindon, we were out in the garden with Matthew and Veronica, and did not have time to rush inside to close the windows. I had really thought we would have to have them sent off to be reconditioned but at what cost....I had found out of course, and it was almost as much as getting some more from an antique shop!
Friday seemed to be one of those days, which just went so well. Work on the house, shopping etc went well, and then our evening out in Leamington was well above expectation. We went out to dinner to the Basement Restaurant and there was a good jazz ensemble: guitar, keyboard and vocalist. David had Fresh Sardines with sauce on toast, followed by gigot of lamb and veg, and orange crepes with chocolate and pecan nut sauce, I had red onion and blue cheese tartelette on a bed of mixed leaves to start with, main of freshest pan fried fillet of sea trout on the best pumpkin and Parmesan risotto I'd ever had, followed by a smooth creme brulee flavoured with Baileys. We'll definitely be going there again. The restaurant was full and the service and whole evening a delight.
Thursday, 9 October 2008
Monday, 6 October 2008
Thursday, 2 October 2008
This is what I bought and as I cycled home I was already planning what I would have for lunch and dinner.
There is a nice flower stall and a couple of plant stalls. I'll have to think of a way of bringing back some trays of flowers to plant out for winter colour.
I can almost hear you gasp, what four weeks! So did Matthew, my son, but when I explained to what was being done, he emailed back that he understands that was necessary what with David's exacting standards. Cables are being sunk, skirting boards replaced, new fire surround, putting air vents in chimneys, small cupboard being upgraded, papering, painting etc etc.
The first room to be carpeted will be the living and dining rooms, as they will be empty. We shall have a couple of days to shift some things around. Then the fitters will return to do a couple more rooms, and the same again. That's the beauty of having a local Company, at least they also most live in Kenilworth, so that reduces the fitters carbon footprint as compared to having a company from Stratford or whatever.
The very small scissors were also a little treat from the Show in Birmingham, and fit in my little sewing box which I also made at the group.