Wednesday, 30 June 2010

A fews days away: part 1 Portsmouth Historic dockyard

Once again Johnsons came up trumps with this holiday, except for the fact that we, along with at least two other couples, did not get the paperwork which other holiday makers got. However our driver soon found copies of the maps and detailed itinerary to give us. Hotel and weather were gorgeous too!

I was going to write about our few days away in Brighton, but then when I think of all the other places and things we did over the four days, that would not be quite right. So this is Part 1!

Before we got to Brighton, we had several hours at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard Area. I think we could have spent several days just here. The area is full of interesting things to see, is very clean, tidy, and full of well stocked museums and exhibits. With the few hours we had, we decided to concentrate on HMS Victory. Normally I shy away from anything military as I know just how much suffering comes about as a result of wars, but somehow because this was military or rather naval hardware from so long ago, this did not have the same effect.

The audio presentation as well as all the sign boards brought so much to the visit. I just wish I had bought the book, but Mr S reminded us that we also now live in fairly close quarters, and where would I put this, and that I would be able to get books from the library etc, etc.
From the Poop Deck right down to the very bottom of the ship where ballast and kegs of water were kept, there is so much of interest.

The manning of this large stove and the provision of food was so important that it was undertaken by an Officer. The stove also had facilities to make distilled water which was used mainly by the Surgeon to treat wounds etc.

There were chickens coops on board, but no live hens on board these days! The ship would have sufficient provisions to stay out for 6 months. These barrels were used for soaking salt out of the salt meat and vegetables before cooking.

If you were Nelson or a senior officer, you would have eaten in luxurious surroundings. The floor here is painted sail cloth.

For the rest of the crew and there were normally a total of 850 men, the tables, which were then taken down to hang the hammocks, were perched amongst the cannons. Everything including all the furniture would be stowed away, and all the lovely wooden partitions and panelling in Nelson's quarters would be folded up against the ceiling during battle to allow a full view and ease of passage along the whole length of the ship.

I feel that this would probably be a good way of using small modern houses too, but then it would not be beautiful wooden panels but some lighter synthetic material that is hinged back against the ceiling. I remember that during one of our visits to London from Mauritius, when I was a child, we lived in a lovely old flat near Kensington which had very large wooden partitions to dinning room etc which could be moved back to make a very large reception room probably as large as the whole ground floor of this house, if not larger!

If you were an officer, your lady would probably have embroidered you lovely hangings too! I never imaged a hammock to be rectangular shaped, and flat. I would like to lie down in one of these, and see whether they are comfortable or not. I would love to have a try! But I didn't think of asking!

Kenilworth Knit and Natter Workshop

How good can life in a friendly small town, having a knitting group within walking distance peopled by charming women, and then a knitting workshop organised by Mandy at our normal haunt. I had a wonderful day, and learnt a few excellent finishing techniques. Jane Crowfoot was inspiring. Jane's cushions and kits were inspiring, and Roni from our group for one, bought this and has nearly finished hers. Clever woman that she is, she is getting two from one kit, by knitting a plain backing for them, from stashed yarn. They come in two colourways, and here they are propped up against the windows at the Almanack. Our lunch, coffees etc ther were delicious.

Mandy also writes a blog, always worth a look at, not only on account of her excellent pictures, but also her witty musings. If you want to know more about our workshop, then I would point you in her direction.

When I saw the needles that Jane had brought along, I felt I just needed to add this pair to my collection. They are made from wood left over from instrument making, and for sentimental reasons, I wanted to have this ebony pair as Mauritius was an island which was first visited/plundered for its ebony. I always love to look at this wood when in museums etc. Now I have a little bit for myself.

Rita'S Birthday

Where has the time gone.....not enough till now for blogging....its been spent with friends, going to Brighton, making jam, gardening, etc etc.

At the beginning of the month there were celebrations:

Rita's birthday to start with. On the morning of her birthday Marie-Claire and I went round to help her start her day. I picked a lovely bunch of flowers, and Marie-Claire had baked one of her superb fruit tarts. Rita is an 80 something and full of life, and loves having a fuss made of her especially on her birthday.

Here is a picture of my two Kenilworth Mauritian Friends....

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

This sums up the summer this year

Its been hot, its been the hottest since for over three years. I've been gallivanting with Mr S and will write more about this. On Sunday some of friends and family came over to help up celebrate our wedding anniversary, and boy was it hot.

When I emailed my daughter in law and son to thank them for coming all the way and in such heat, I got back this picture of our little Izabelle and I think this sums up this cool can a babe look!

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Strawberry Pavlova

It looked marvellous, so I wanted to get the whole thing in, and so I look at the photograph, but it looks as if it is hanging off the wall!

I made this specially as Rita was coming over for lunch, and I know she has a very a very sweet tooth. We had a very healthy salad and one of my red onion, olive, red pepper and cheese breads, and the Pavlova to finish.

Mr S and I finished it off later that evening.....well Pavlova is best eaten the day it is made. This is made with the addition of a little cornflour and cider vinegar, which leaves the centre of the meringue soft and marshmallowey. I always think of my mother when I see Pavlova's, in Mauritius she would use all manner of luscious tropical fruits, and would often make them for friends' dinner parties.

Swift: wonderful tool or modern art

A few months ago a beautiful object sneaked into our home. Crafted in wood and beautifully finished, it stands tall, folded up and ready to be used. It is so beautiful that it is stood on our sideboard, and has intrigued many a non crafty visitor. This Swift was made by a talented woman: Claire . Here she is at the Almanack explaining that with the pegs and various slots, it is possible to hold skeins of varying size snugly and with the solid brass central pin, the swift spins smoothly at slow or high speed.

Claire is a regular at our knitting group, and as far as I was concerned had been hiding her light under a bushel. Well not really, Claire is just conscious that she does not want to use the group just to market her wares, but to join as a regular member. When Mandy brought in her swift to show us, it was without any hesitation that I placed my order. I wonder just how many of us in the group who buy skeins of wool would want and in fact have one of these Swifts.

I do find hand winding balls of yarn quite relaxing, and when he is around Mr S does do the holding of the skein bit, but when it comes to lace weight yarn, this can take several hours over several days, and can get tiring. These balls were all hand wound with my thumb forming the hole.

Last year I picked up a bargain of a ball winder in one of the many Kenilworth Charity Shops, and had this parked in the back of a cupboard ready for the day I would find just the right Swift.

Whilst I had the swift and the winder out, I wound all this lace weight yarn,, including the mohair in less than half a day. Now it is all ready to knit into soft lacy shawls.

Warm reunion

Last Saturday we met up again with the W Family. It seemed that it was the hottest day so far this year, and we just had to have the air conditioning on in the car on our way down to Chineham.

This was only the second time that Mr S was seeing our little Izabelle. What a change we saw. Its only about three weeks since I was last saw Izabelle, and it was a delight to see the whole family again. Both new Mum and Dad are settling down to the big change in their life, and looking happy and well.
After lunch of a nice chicken curry which I had taken, rice cooked by Matthew, and baby leaf salad grown and picked by Veronica, it was off to join the official opening of a circular walk going through some of the ancient woodlands of the area. Veronica and Matthew are volunteers and have put in a lot of work managing the woodland there. We met other volunteers, as well as the Mayor, and local MP.

Half way round I had to make a short detour home, as with the heat my feet were getting sore, and with the onset of blisters, I didn't feel I could complete the walk. The boys continued and when they got back, Matthew set up some emergency cooling. This was very much appreciated by everyone!

Even Izabelle dons the Chineham Conservation Group logo on her tee shirt! Here she is in her Green Chair watching the bee mobile.

Tussie Mussie

What a lovely sounding word. This has been on the tip of my tongue for a few days now, and finally having discussed this with my craft group, and having got an idea of the correct pronunciation and spelling, can finally explain than this is the word that describes my little posies. Tussie Mussies was the name given to the little collection of scented flowers which were being made up at the American Museum in Bath.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Etoile de Hollande in a posy

When we moved here, the back garden was demanding to be tamed. There had been some very good design work, and planting, but once it had been done, I reckon about eight years previously, nothing had been pruned or much gardening done. A large Eucalyptus and several large leylandii which must have been planted over 20 years previously were completely out of scale with the garden.

Three years on, many of the very overgrown plants have been tamed, and the large eucalyptus and several large leylandii removed, as well as some tired overgrown shrubs. Now the air and sunshine have penetrated the garden.

One of the plants to thrive is a large and strong red rose growing over the arch leading from the patio to the main body of the garden. After a bit of research I found its name: Etoile de Hollande. It grows strongly, and because it is very healthy, can cope with the greenfly and any blackspot. I watch out carefully for the first greenfly, and if they are not being checked by the ladybirds and blue tits, then I might just finger crush any I find, and any leaves looking like they are starting to deteriorate are quickly picked off and binned.

As I wash up and glance out of the window, the rose covered arch frames the view of the garden. Usually I slip out there very early, still in dressing gown to inspect the garden whilst it is still fresh from its evening slumber. This is the best time to pick flowers, whilst they are cool and covered with dew. I love making up little posies, and this Thursday I tied this one, using heuchera and hosta leaves. I took it to the Knitting Group at the Almanack, where it was handed over to Mandy as her birthday posy.

Since I wrote this post I've been looking for another word to describe the posies...they are also called Tussie Mussies. This was the word used at the American Museum.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Philip Lim photograph

Recently there was an evening at the Kenilworth WI, where we were asked to take along a photograph of ourselves as a child, and the idea was for members to match them to the member. As I was not able to go to that meeting as I was on a course at Denman College, I had passed a few photographs to Margaret, who was organising this asking her to select one. There were not many taken of us as young children, anyway not many that had survived the traumas of tropical weather and insects, so I chose to include this one, which I had taken from a picture frame which hung just inside my mother's sitting room. When I had taken it from the frame, I also found Philip Lim's signature and my practice ones as a young girl.
When the photograph was returned to me, it was with admiration for the quality of the photograph, and knowing that there are some excellent photographers in the group, it took me to remembering Philip Lim.
I shall post more on this topic later.