Monday, 27 March 2017

'C' is for.. stuff that makes me smile

'Crafting and Creative Projects'
Here are the placemats and coasters that I made for Mum for Mother's Day.
They're made with poly-cottons and brushed cotton (rather than batting) so they should go through the washing machine without problems. This was my first 'go' at anything like this so I was really pleased with the result.  Mum really liked them too.
I've also been flexing and stretching my 'musical creativity' recently.  I write material for harp on a regular basis but it's been a very, very long time since I last wrote anything for piano.  This week I finished a piece called 'Prelude' for one of my intermediate piano pupils.  It's been nice to exercise my brain in a different way... and quite challenging to make sure that the music is of the right level to have 'durability' but still accessible to a 11 year old boy.
'Cats getting in the way of crafting'
Thomas is really back on form.  I took him to the vets last Wednesday and she said that his heart was good, the thyroid tablets are keeping his weight up, and he's enjoying a pain free life with the pain medication.  He was slightly puzzled to find Mark sewing on badges in the conservatory.. he jumped up and started to play with the thread and needle.
Eventually Mark gave in and 'fussed' him for a while.  The net result is that we now have new black tops for the show that are generously covered in white cat fur!!

Mark has worked really hard to get the current project looking good for the 'Restoration Show' at the NEC next weekend.  Obviously she still needs paint, glass and a new interior - but the new wheels and all the mechanical modifications under the bonnet give a pretty good idea of his creativity.  It's also given him the motivation to start scheduling the final stages of the build.  Hopefully I'll be posting pictures of a finished car by the end of the year!!!

And the meanwhile there's been no confirmation of the situation with regards to the damaged Series 2 Disco - so we're still waltzing around in this wee beastie..

Actually we've become rather fond of this car and a custody battle is starting to develop.  This week Mark has got her today, I'm driving her tomorrow, Mark has her on Wednesday, we're sharing Thursday and I'm driving Friday! This was a photo of her first 'grass between the wheel treads' moment at Croome Park yesterday afternoon!!  A little bit silly, but also fun...
Ofcourse there's always some serious stuff going on in the background... but these are things that have made me smile in the last few days

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The New Conservatory ... and other things that shine!

The old conservatory did excellent service for almost 20 years...
But it was poorly insulated, leaked and severely restricted the light in the dining room.
Now I have a lovely light new room, with carpets that match through the whole of the ground floor.  I'm SO pleased with it. 

There are a few patchwork cushions and a small quilt in there at the moment that I might replace.  I've got some lovely pale purple/grey/blue/green fabrics in the stash that will make a new quilt and a few cushions.  I've also decided to move a few bits from my blue and white pottery collection onto the window sills.... I just need to have a sort out in the kitchen and decide what's going where!

Yesterday Mum and Dad came round for a little 'celebrating the finished conservatory' lunch.
I got out my two tier cake stand, tea plates etc. so that we could do the whole thing 'in style'.  We sat and chatted in the sun for about 3 hours.... which was so relaxed and lovely.

And - yesterday morning - this wee beastie arrived on the drive too!
It's a brand new (26 miles on the clock) Discovery 5.
It's the car provided by the insurance company until our old Discovery is sorted out.
(Basically we've got it because the 'normal' vehicles provided to cover periods of accident repair aren't capable of moving a full size harp or towing a 3 1/2 tonne car trailer!)
It's ENORMOUS and it took me several hours to pluck up the courage to drive it!
Now I've got used to it... I actually quite like it. 
Ofcourse 'Petrol Head Mark' has fallen in serious love!!

Sadly my old Discovery was declared a 'write off' this morning - so we're now in the process of negotiating a settlement and finding a replacement.  We won't be buying a Discovery 5 though... Mark told me last night that this car is currently being sold for £65,000!!!!!!!!  (Now I'm even more nervous about driving it......!)  Mark's tasked me to go up a local 4X4 garage this afternoon and see how much a similar condition, 15 year old vehicle will cost.
How did I ever find time to teach????

Monday, 20 March 2017

Life's been a bit crazy...

 Last week I had to take a little 'bloggy break'.
There just didn't seem to be enough time to read posts or write anything of my own.
However, I used the time productively...
Here are the 'pocket warmers' that I made for elder niece L., specially for those cold Leeds mornings when she's catching the bus to her work placement.  I hope that she'll think of Thomas when she looks at the little sleeping cat!
I cleared the conservatory (with some help from Mark when it came to the larger bits of furniture!)

I made endless cups of tea for our workmen
as the old superstructure came down and the new one was erected.
The new carpet is being fitting this afternoon so I'll do a proper 'new conservatory post' later in the week...

When I did Mum and Dad's ironing, I noticed that the napkins they use as table mats in the garden were looking very threadbare.  I found some bright poly-cottons in the stash and started to make some replacements for Mother's Day..
I collected some wheels for Mark's latest car project.

And helped him put them on the car on Friday afternoon.
(We're both SO pleased with the way that they've created the 'modern retro' look that we wanted)

THEN... on Saturday afternoon... we were involved in a road accident.
Basically we were travelling past a road junction at 30 mph.
A driver just didn't see us and pulled out into the side of the vehicle.
Fortunately everyone was ok..... but her car has been written off and the damage to ours could be worse than it looks.  The front of her chassis hit our rear passenger wheel and we suspect that the rear axle is no longer correctly aligned.  She's accepted full responsibility for the accident, but we're now into the inconvenience and paper-chase of sorting things out....

This week I'm hoping for a few days of 'calmer waters'!!!!

Thursday, 9 March 2017

You are what you eat..

..and in my father-in-laws case the all the tests show that he has Vitamin B12 deficiency.
All G.'s symptoms - extreme fatigue, irritability, depression, character changes and loss of memory and understanding - have come from his very poor diet.  He's fallen into a cycle of being quite aggressive about avoiding food too.
Fortunately, we understand that this can be treated with injections and supplements.
We hope that the injections may trigger his appetite again and there won't be too much long term damage.  (G. ate an entire Weatherspoon's big breakfast AND apple crumble while he was on holiday with us in November, so there's hope!)
Mark and P. are also talking regularly, which is keeping the 'bigger picture' of family relationships calmer too.  As a result, I feel a lot less anxious and stressed about this area of our life!
It's been a bit of a crazy week though...
- My beloved Series 2 Discovery is ill again.  (Solution - borrow Dad's sporty old Nissan 200SX and enjoy the twin turbos... Woop, woop!)
- I spent four hours at Accident and Emergency yesterday afternoon with a friend who had major heart surgery 18 months ago.  (Outcome - the pain wasn't his heart, just the muscles/bones in the chest cavity... what a relief!)
- Dad's asthma is really bad again and he's spending a lot of time at the doctors. (Positive - he's finally working with a doctor at the surgery who seems prepared to put a more systematic review and long-term action plan in place.  Now I've just got to encourage Dad to be honest about the challenges of being Mum's carer and the correlation between her 'bad days' and his own health)
- We're having the conservatory replaced next week.  I really need to start clearing it...
In the meanwhile...
- I want to send niece L. back to uni with some 'pocket warmers'.   I haven't started them yet and I'm having a coffee with her late tomorrow morning.  She goes back on Saturday.  Eeek!
- I'm somewhere over halfway through the lacy knitted scarf that I'm making for my friends birthday... next Tuesday.  Eeek, eek!!!
- I've also been enjoying loads of lovely social chats.  I'm off again in half and hour to pick up the Nissan and drive to Redditch for a gossip with an ex-colleague.
How did I find time to work???!

Monday, 6 March 2017

And the consequence was.....

There are three main characters in my 'in law' story....
G. - my father in law
(Defined by running his own cycle shop business in Oxford and his passion for gardening; retired at the age of 82; bought first floor flat retirement flat nowhere near old house BUT near brother-in-law;  literally bored out of his brain...)
P. - my brother in law
(Has worked with father all life without taking on any real responsibility; maximised his relationship with his father for substantial financial gain; makes a habit of lobbing words, facts and falsehoods very much in the style of a certain recently elected President; a difficult man to get on with...)
A. - P's long term partner
(A very kind woman... currently exhausted by the situation)
G. should have been staying with us for a long weekend from Friday until tomorrow. 
On these occasions I've always gone to Oxford to collect him and taken him home again at the end of his stay - about 280 miles in total.  He told P that he no longer wishes to visit us... so we went down anyway to chat to him and find out what's wrong.
Basically he's depressed and neglecting himself.  He can't cope with the 'upheaval' of planning for a few days away.  He's also got some short-term memory loss problems.  Doctors etc are involved and we'll find out the results of a wide range of tests on Wednesday.
In the background P. has been engaged in the usual verbal 'white noise'.
(One of his most recent gems was to accuse me of having no idea how to look after seriously ill elderly people.............!!)
My wonderful Mark dealt with everyone calmly and kindly..
G. knows that we love him.
P. knows that, with the best will in the world, we cannot drive 140 miles to put eye drops in his fathers eyes.
P. has also been reminded that, if he wants help, we respond better to pleasantries than abuse..
A. knows that we think she's a saint...
We got back to our little haven in Worcester at 6.00...
and by 6.05 Mark had poured the wine!!!!
More time with L. today... and lunch with Mum and Dad.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Saturday 'Show and Tell'

We've had this old footstool for years.
We bought it with a suite from the Co-op in Worcester in the mid-90s.
The suite was replaced years ago but this was too useful to be thrown away.
It's mid-90s colours looked ok with the old carpet...
but it's not looking great with the new one!
So I'm making a little quilt to cover it.
I'd been saving these fabrics for some kind of project for the lounge..
and this seems like the perfect opportunity to use them!
The main section is just 5 X panels of random 'quilt as you' strips.

There's going to be a narrow cream border
then the side of the quilt will be five of these floral print squares.
(The floral pattern is actually a beautiful screen print....
which I picked up for £1 a metre in a clearance bin!)

In the evenings I'm also working feverishly on this lace scarf.
I hope that I'll be able to give it to my friend for her birthday in 10 days time.
I love the effect, but the yarn is an absolute pest to work with!

On Thursday morning, niece L. and I went for a walk and lunch in the Wyre Forest.
She's doing a nursing degree in Leeds so her holidays tend to be at slightly weird times.
It was such a luxury to be out and about under blue skies!

The paths were really water-logged..

but we managed to walk a decent length loop around the forest tracks
and along the old railway line.

It was lovely to catch up with all her news.
This evening Mum and Dad are coming for dinner.
We're having Shepherds Pie (a good one for people with HD)
Tomorrow we're off to Oxford to try and tackle some of the 'in-law issues'...
Between you and me, I'd rather stay at home and craft...
but Mark would like my support (which is fair enough!)
I am, however, taking the birthday scarf with me to work on.
I'm hoping that I'll feel less like throttling people if I can keep my fingers occupied!!

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Blown Away on the Welsh Coast.

We spent half term in a gorgeous little holiday cottage in New Quay on the West Coast.
Follow this link to see the details of our accommodation.  It really was really lovely and I'd whole-heartedly recommend it to any couple looking for something a bit special in the area.
The weather was extremely variable.  There were lots of grey skies
and all the boats were out of the water to avoid the worst of the winter storms...
There was a little bit of blue sky at Aberaeron...

..and we had lots of fun exploring the quirky shops in Cardigan

We had ringside seats for storm Doris. 
This is high tide on the same day, after the worst of the high winds had passed..

Then we explored Aberystwyth and enjoyed one day of 'real' winter sun.

But the main thing was that Mark had a proper break from the challenges and hassles of his workplace.  The poor weather forced us to slow down properly and we spent ages just reading, crafting, chatting and enjoying the huge view from the upstairs seating area in the cottage.

I also went on a bit of a spending spree in the local fabric and yarn shops.
I spent two hours choosing fabric in Calico Kate when it was raining hard on the Wednesday morning (well there are 12 rooms of fabric to work through!!!!); visited Rosemary's Wool Shop in Aberaeron twice AND had to be dragged out of Clare Wools in Aberystwyth after a perfectly reasonable 45 minute brouse!!!  We also found a wool shop in the lower ground floor of Cardigan Market and stopped off at the wool shop in Brecon during the journey home.  All the ingredients for a great holiday really!
Sadly, things have been a little bit fraught since we got home.  My folks are fine - but I've had car problems and 'in-law' problems, which are time consuming and have made it hard to blog.
There was also an absolute mountain of washing and housework!
Hopefully we're back into normal routine now.
I'll post some 'work in progress' and stash photos later in the week,