Monday, 31 May 2010

Washing Disaster, felted gloves no use except to go in the wormery

Now I know what happens when a knitted item is machine washed, and what felted fabric looks like.

I did have a lovely pair of they just look like a piece of 'art' a colourful sculpture of a very small pair of gloves about the third of the size of the original, very thick and stiff. They were in the pocket of an old jacket which I had worn the previous day to the Steam Gala, and which was covered with smuts from the engines.

Here is a picture of them when I had just knitted them.

I was pretty upset, as this year I have really appreciated that this pair of knitted wool gloves is really very very much warmer than a leather pair.

Mr S was very sympathetic and in his way consoled me by saying that as I had knitted them, then I would be able to knit myself some more.

Mauritian Friends in Kenilworth

Mauritius is a small Island, and the world is a small place too, when people become friends. This picture of us was taken in Marie-Claire's living room. She is the very pretty lady at the front of the picture, also known by other names to people who knew her years ago, I met through Rita, (not in this picture). I am in the middle, and Nicole is on the right. Sometimes I feel that I am in a Russian Novel, with all the different names for the same person!
Nicole is Marie-Claire's school friend from Mauritius. They both came over to the UK to train and then to work, and have settled in England with their English Husbands. Last time that Nicole came over, and Marie-Claire invited me to join them, it turned out that they were at school with an old friend of mine, Marie-Noelle Brouard, and we are still trying to all get together again.

Flowers for Claire

Here is the bunch of flowers I had picked early Friday morning to take along to Claire's. Only just the day before we had planned a trip to Leicester to search out cloth for our quilting and patchwork projects. Even though I had carefully checked on line through Google maps how to get to our destination, and had even been able to see the intricacies of the roundabouts and turnings through google cameras, I had not checked the obvious. Luckily Claire had, and the early morning phone call was to say that our trip had to be put on hold as the Fabric Guild was not open for visitors that day. I said that I would take a picture of the flowers I had just picked for her, and post them for her to look at.

I just could not remember the name of the flower, and I've enjoyed looking for it, and then finding some interesting information about this very old fashioned flower. I would certainly recommend this plant for the garden as it flowers in between the end of the spring bulbs and the start of the early summer herbaceous flowers, and is good as a cut flower tot. I must look out the seed which I saved last year, and distribute this as widely as I can amongst friends. So if you would like some, be sure to ask.

I had originally bought three Hesperis plants at an evening lecture held by the NCCPG in Warwick, and this year's crop of plants were the offspring of seed which had been set in my garden. I gather that Hesperis Matonalis is in the mustard family. There are several old fashioned names: Dame’s Rocket, Damask Violet, Dame’s Violet, Dames-wort, Dame’s Gilliflower, Night Scented Gilliflower, Queen’s Gilliflower, Rogue’s Gilliflower, Summer Lilac, Sweet Rocket, Mother-of-the-evening and, Winter Gilliflower.

The plants have charming, large spikes of single, lilac and purple flowers, and have filled the garden with a sweet and spicy scent. The bees and bumblebees are over the flowers from dawn to dusk. I recognised these plants when I worked last year in the new Elizabethan Gardens in Kenilworth Castle. Theirs were sadly poor specimens compared to mine. The plants are biannual and where they set seed, dropped and grew, I thinned out the plants and transplanted them around the garden. They have done well equally in full sun, where the flowers are earlier, and in almost full shade, where the flowers are later. They start to flower with stems about 30 cm high, but on stronger plants are the flower spikes mature they are about 90 cm tall, and here is a picture of them growing through the lower branches of the plum tree. The cut stems keep well in a vase lasting about five days.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Kenilworth Festival

For residents of Kenilworth, there is so much on offer during the week.

We went to the Street Market, which was supposed to be a French one, but I would say more continental. I loved the French Soap Stall, and brought back a few bars to add to my Stash. Mr S favours glycerin soap, but loved the smell in the bathroom, and has accepted them for the hand wash basin. These are artisan made soaps: Savon de Marseille and come in a whole range of colours and scents. I wished I had taken a picture of the stall. I enjoyed my chat with the stall holder in French. When I first arrived there was no one browsing, so we just continued chatting. I took one of the little baskets and started to choose my soaps. There were deals for 2, 4 etc and for 6 it was £10, but I wanted 7, and we worked a deal for that too! Soon the stall was nearly one deep all along its length, and I tried to give the English for various types to some of the buyers. Next year, I reckon, I'll be going to the cash machine and getting a year's worth of soap. Already I have devised a system: use a bar for a few days, then back in the airing cupboard to harden up, and in the meantime have a change of scent before the nose gets too accustomed. The scent really does keep well throughout the bar.

The party in the park was a little larger than last year, and with a good turn out too!

There seemed to be many more stalls from 'small businesses', maybe a sign of the recession, that people are starting to work for themselves, and using such local gatherings to market their wares. There was such a large variety of food type stalls, that I think it would be a good idea for them to group together.

Jenny bought a cake to take back, and I thought that the cupcake display quite eye catching. There were some well hatted ladies too!

This design is by one of the members of sent 2 coventry.

So much done so little time spent blogging

I 've just downloaded loads of pictures and had a sort out and review of what I've been up to this month.

Lucky me for having so many nice things happening this month. Firstly I've have some special days with my new Grand daughter, its a privilege to be a Grandma, and have lovely cuddles and plays etc.

In addition to this, my 'baby' sister spent a lovely weekend with us, and top of her list of wants was a visit to one of our local blue bell woods.

Early in the month, I was on duty at Kenilworth in Bloom's Spring plant sale. Mr S came to help, and we made a useful team on the sales desk. Being a helper has its advantages in that one can buy plants before the hoards turn up. I chose some choice perennials grown by a member. The quality was excellent and they had been on my to buy list for our next days' visit to the Malvern Spring Show. However I did not have time to get the hanging baskets I had set my eyes on and other annuals before the crowds arrived, and sadly they had all gone before I had my chance.
Our trip to Malvern Sprin Show with Kenilworth Gardening Club resulted in a few purchases: two choice show auriculas, and some succulents etc. One thing I learnt, was not to go on the last day, when one does not have the choice to stay for the big sale at the end, and when most of the very special plants have all been sold! We did have probably the best day of a cold week, and there is so very little room left in the garden!
My stall of the show was the one devoted to agapanthus flowers and plants. I had been on the look out for some miniature ones on the Isles of Scilly, and managed to get two excellent pots at the KIB sale, which were better specimens than those left on Sunday at the show.

I also loved Rebekah's stall with its large pots of salad leaves. Veronica grows these, and I really thought I had found the ideal little present for her and a number of gardening friends but unfortunately all the packets of wonderful mixtures had sold out completely.

In addition I revisited the two auricula growers and the succulent stands several times!

Monday, 3 May 2010

Isles of Scilly

It is less than a week since our return from the Isles of Scilly, and the delights are yet to fade. This was our first visit. I say first because I know there will be more....

We went with Johnsons Travel a local travel and coach company, and our courier was Joan Johnson. Joan had escorted trips to the Isles of Scilly over many years, and we heard during one of our trips how she had approached the Atlantic Hotel around twenty years ago and had developed this wonderful holiday with guided walks and trips to other islands. Lapped by the waters of the bay, I woke early one morning, thinking a neighbour had poured a bath and was sloshing around it, but soon realised that it was the sea gently lapping at high tide beneath our window.

We met many local characters known by those who had watched Island parish. The Islanders were friendly and helpful, and indeed Radio Scilly to which the alarm clock radio was set, made us feel part of the community. It gave a good idea of the weather and sea conditions that day, and also what was going on. We went to a couple of evening lectures and also a concert at St Mary's Church.

The journey went well, and with more than ample leg room even for Mr S, we arrived at Newquay airport, and although we had not been selected for the very smallest plane: seven passengers, who had to be weighted, we flew by a seventeen seater Twin Otter.

At no time had these flights been affected by the Iceland Volcano Ash, as they fly low. On the return leg however, we had to wait for sea fog at Land's End to clear, which is where our flight was coming from.

The beaches were just so beautiful, and with white beaches, turquoise seas, and fine weather, it was just perfect....can't say how cold it was in the sea though!

This was a typical bay on Tresco, which is also famous for its Gardens full of exotic trees, shrubs and flowers. There were species which we recognised from Madeira, and also species from South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

Right across the islands were interesting gardens, fields and flowers growing wild in the hedgerows. I already have some succulents and bought a couple to bring back. I did not realise that a succulent could have such a sweet smell just from its leaves. The Aeonium Balsamiferum is filling the conservatory with its honey smell. It was interesting to see mature Black Aeoniums, of which mine is a mere juvenile, in full flower growing without protection.

Both on St Mary's and St Agnes and The Gugh, we came across wonderful large blocks of Granite eroded by wind, rain and sea into shapes which just had to be named or described. The Nag's Head on St Agnes, looking toward the sea looks more like a winged mythical creature to me.

Another beautiful arrangement of worn granite at Peninnis Head on the southern tip of St Mary's was just a short walk from Hugh Town.

Popina Book of Baking

Once I had over one hundred cookery books, and had to reduce them, so took them into work, and later that day our office charity box was the richer....

Slowly, very slowly the numbers are mounting up again. I do try to only get books from the Library, but there are a few, which really NEED to stay here. Whilst in Waitrose, I picked up a new book, and flicking through the pages, I knew that here gathered under one cover, were several things I would like to bake.
In her introduction Isidora Popovic 'urges you to use this book as a canvas for your own creations.' I loved this, as this is just how I use books. Her use of pizza dough to line savoury tarts lessens the amount of fat, so for my first trial of this I used her spelt pizza dough, but used just cooked fresh salmon and asparagus in the filling. I used the quantities of Greek yogurt, cheese etc recommended and felt it was a bit shallow, but it baked up just right...this is before it went into the oven. Next time I shall try hot smoked salmon.

The new season asparagus at the market was too tantalising, so two bunches were used for this and a soup. I took this over for Veronica when we went to visit the new addition to the family. V & I had a piece for our lunch, and the rest was portioned and stored in the freezer for snacks on another day. It was lovely.