Friday, 24 April 2015

10 Things: Week 16

1. Read: The Dinner is finished. What a strange book! I found it a little clunky too, which I suspect is  due to the translating from one language to another. I then read: Fizzlebert Stump: The boy who ran away from the circus (and joined the library) - by A F Harold. It's a children's book by author and poet A F Harold who entertained us with his poetry on the Friday night of the bookcrossing convention. I'm sure any 8-10 year old that hasn't discovered Fizzlebert Stump is missing a treat. I'm desperately trying to finish have just this moment finished:  "In the Dark" by Deborah Moggach. Which would actually make a great book group choice. So much in this book and plenty you could discuss. Once I've read that I may well start on my own book groups next choice as the May meeting will soon come around.

2. Made: I have really lost my sewing mojo. I want to finish the Amsterdam quilt, but to baste it requires ironing it and piecing the backing and quite frankly I've been too lazy to get the ironing board out. I've even contemplated whether I should be destashing a load of my treasured fabrics to fund a camera lens I REALLY want  need. I am far more into photography than I am sewing. I can pin point the exact moment things stopped being so fun for me. The changes in the community haven't helped things either. The only thing stopping me destashing is what if I regret getting rid of stuff in six months time?

3. Watched: Safe House - a new drama to ITV on Monday nights. Starring Christopher Eccleston, it's a gripping drama about a family in need of some police style protection in a safe house and the ex police man who provides it. There is a tense sense of menace as the person/people out to get the family seems intent on stopping at nothing. Creepy. I switched off the laptop to concentrate fully on watching it and am already looking forward to next weeks episode.

4. My Garden/Flowers I am loving the spring flowers everywhere. Something new in the garden every day.

April in my garden 

My Garden 

April in my garden

5. Eaten: At long last a friend that had been desperate to try the thai tapas at The Railway came over on Wednesday so we could have an early dinner. Sadly since I visited with my niece at the begining of the month they've done away with the three dishes for £12.00 so it does work out more expensive. When I asked about this it turns out they're changing the menu and will be adding a large sharing platter as a starter (Yay!) and more thai soups and salads (Boo - these are my least favourites on the menu. Not a soup person and the salads just don't do it for me at all by comparison to the other lovely tempting things that were on the menu.

She got to try it at last

6. Visited/Seen: Chief came down last Thursday night and stayed until Saturday tea time, when he had to return home. Friday we headed off to Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens near Burford, Oxfordshire. It's a lovely wildlife park as you can get so close to many of the animals. There is something pretty special about seeing  a crash of white rhinos on the lawn of a Cotswold Manor House.


Me in the Giraffe Area 

Cotswold Wildlife Park Cotswold Wildlife Park
The baby Rhino was only born at the end of last month and is called
Ian - so cute! 

7. Recommended: I can't think of anything right now to recommend. Well, I can but that particular recommendation deserves some pictures, so maybe next week!

8. Stash: In 0 Out 0 I'm not even looking at fabric right now. It's so tempting to buy and I'm sure most of us have more in our stashes than we can ever use. I really don't want to add to a stash I'm hardly using!

9. Birds: I've done really well on the bird front. Whilst a post Cotswold Wildlife Park trip to Farmoor provided no new birds. I did get to add a bird I'd never seen before to my list the next day: Ring Ouzels. Not the greatest shots. But the countryside was pretty amazing too. I also got my best ever Red Kite photos at what Chief refers to as: The Kite Cafe.  If I look back at my first attempts at capturing them I cringe out how bad and blurred those attempts were.

Linky Down
Only record shots but those black and white blobs are Ring Ouzels

Red Kites
Red Kites - there are more in the flickr set if you click through from either picture.

Red Kites

10. And Finally: I'm looking forward to a long overdue lunch with a school friend tomorrow. I haven't exchanged birthday or Christmas presents with her! I'm so looking forward to catching up with her.

Friday, 17 April 2015

10 Things: Week 15

 A very Book Crossing centric post!

1. Read: I'm still reading 'The Dinner' by Herman Koch on my kindle and for the bath time reading: 'In the Dark' by Deborah Moggach. Set in the great war it follows the lives of those in a boarding house and what happens when the widowed boarding house owner: Mrs Clay falls for the Lothario local butcher.

2. Made: Not a thing. Well,  I lie.  It hardly counts and I have no photographs. There is a game us BookCrossers love to play at meet ups called 'The Bookswap Game' or 'Steal and Reveal'. It requires you to take a long a wrapped book you've read, so I opted to make a simple drawer string bag to hide the book until it was revealed in the game. I used some texty fabric and it was all very 'cheap and cheerful'. Needless to say I didn't win the best dressed book in the bookswap prize. That went to my friend Retromonkey, who of course made a sock monkey. The sock had books and book worms on it.

Retromonkeys entry

3. Watched: I am all behind with my TV watching this week. I have watched a couple of the 'special' one off episodes of Only Fools and Horses. Which for non UK readers was a very popular comedy in the 1980's. 

4. My Garden/Flowers: Spring has sprung everywhere now! The garden is looking so lush and green. Bulbs and blossom everywhere. My brother has given the lawn it's first cut this week and cleaned down all the patio areas. The mini heat wave means I've had shorts and t-shirts on and we've even been able to have meals outside!

5. Eaten: Friday night at the world bookcrossing convention, which was held at St Hilda's College, Oxford we had a buffet. The convention runs for three days and there are extra activities arranged for those arriving earlier or later than the convention time. It's put on by a committee of volunteers and the price for the whole weekend is just £50. I say 'just' because this is far cheaper than some sewing related things that I've seen advertised or experienced. For that price I was kind of expecting a very basic buffet. It was far from that. It was a sit down buffet in the Main Building and there were waiters on hand to replenish water jugs/coffee and any food that looked like it might be running low.

Excellent Buffet!
Bookcrossing friends Beqi and Retromonkey impressed by the food.

Proof I actually went

me - the only photo of me as I was behind the camera rather than 
in front of it.

6. Visited/Seen: As already mentioned I've just come back from the annual bookcrossing convention. This is only the second time it's been held in the UK. The first time was in London.  The venue was St Hilda's College. The indoor activities were held in the Jaqueline du Pre building (JDP), although it was such lovely weather quite a few of us enjoyed the lovely grounds. Sadly there was problems with my accommodation and I wasn't well so after a poor nights sleep I ended up missing most of Saturday and going home. It wasn't an easy decision but both Chief and I are still struggling after the tummy bug we had a few weeks ago and I really needed to get some proper rest and be near a toilet. Something the college couldn't quite work out to my satisfaction, despite pre-paying for en suite accommodation back in July of last year!

St Hilda's
Just part of  St Hilda's College.

That aside the convention was brilliant. Great company and so many books! 

Book Buffet or Table of Temptation
the book buffet - all these books to tempt
a reader!

7. Recommended: How can I not recommend Book Crossing? I have been a bit of a lapsed bookcrosser these last few years. The convention has really rekindled (hmm unfortunate pun) my enthusiasm for it though. 

8. Stash: In: 1.5 Out 0 - it was boosted by some destashing by Lily's Quilts. I really needed to boost my low volume stash after using so much of it recently.

9. Birds: Friday afternoon, after some of us had lunched at the aptly named 'Tick Tock Cafe' - there was clocks everywhere and my friend was wearing a top with clocks on it - a no brainer to eat there then!

The Tick Tock Cafe - Cowley Road Oxford

We sat down on bench in the college grounds heckling the punters watching the valiant attempts of those punting along the river Cherwell. I'm a dreadful spectator of punters and can be heard muttering: They're in Oxford not Cambridge what are they doing trying to punt from the front? or Umm they're punting from the back but they're actually stood on the front of the punt to do it?! Although I do feel for them. Some went round in circles and could hardly navigate the five yard stretch in front of us bouncing from one bank to the other.  Of course the professionals think nothing of having 4 punts lashed together and whipping up the river. We shouted words of encouragement to those we thought might appreciate it and waved at excited children.  I am not a punter. I keep saying I should go. Really I should go with my brother who is an experienced expert punter. I've heard tell that near Folly Bridge where the  River Thames meets the more gentile R. Cherwell that whilst people are rowing in circles or losing punting poles my brother is the one over taking them and off miles ahead leaving them all in his non literal wake.

River Cherwell from St Hilda's 

There is so much wildlife around that area. Green Woodpeckers would fly along the river and spend ages on the grass of the sports fields across the river. Even when I checked in at the lodge earlier that morning there was a lot of quacking and some mallards looked set to join me in the lodge! Also flying up the river bank and swooping in and out of nearby trees was a Jay! A new one on my year list and a bird I really love because of it's pinky plumage and that magical flash of blue and white on the wing.  And of course just like the Jay I've also been referred to as another 'J' that's quite a chatty bird! 

I spotted a Jay flying about near the river!

10. And finally: Chief is due down on Thurs night so this will be another scheduled post and hopefully we'll have a pleasant few days together before he returns to northern parts on Saturday night. I am hoping that next week I can baste my Amsterdam quilt. It would be so lovely to get it finished!

Friday, 10 April 2015

10 Things: Week 14

1. Read I have The Dinner by Herman Koch on my Kindle. I started it out in the garden in the glorious sunshine. It's been warm enough for shorts on our front bench! I also finished Touching the Void by Joe Simpson. I think I preferred the film.  All the climbing/mountaineering terminology was hard going for a non climber like myself.

2. Made: The Amsterdam quilt top is pieced! No time to get it basted and whilst I've found some fabric from stash that'll do for the backing; it'll need some cutting and piecing to get it to a workable size.

3. Watched: I've been working my way through a Survivors box set.  It was a show from the early 1970's about the survivors of a flu like plague that wiped most of the world out. Survivors is about what happens to the people after the plague has spread. How they rebuild lives and eek out an existence in a world robbed of basics they took for granted in the early 1970's like electricity and cars. Ironic now that as a world we're much more reliant on technology than ever and I always wonder how we'd fare now if a plague wiped most of us out.

4. My Garden/Flowers: I absolutely love this time of year for how something changes in the garden every day.


Japanese Quince


Fritillia uva vulpis

5. Eaten I enjoyed a squid salad. A tub of char grilled squid from the Deli section in Marks and Spencer and some salad stuff from my fridge and I had a tasty salad that is reminding me of the lovely salads I can enjoy throughout the summer now the weather is warming up.

Stopped gardening for lunch

6. Visited/Seen Mum and I had a lovely walk on Easter Sunday. We walked through an area that our village is going to lose to a neighbouring village in a boundary change. Some of the land has been ear marked for affordable housing.  I wanted to get some pictures before the land changes forever.

Next to Fairfax Gate
This wooded area runs along side the A40

Next to Fairfax Gate
This land will become the site of affordable housing.

7. Recommended: Have a clothes audit - it's the perfect time of year to go through your winter clothes and see if you need to add or replace your summer ones. I've made a start on mine and it's been really satisfying.  

8. Stash In 2.5  Out 1 yard.  I bought a lovely bundle of vintage sheet fat quarters from Mary this week. I wanted to boost my stash and haven't been able to go vintage sheet hunting myself. Unfortunately I haven't managed any pictures yet.

9. Birds Nothing to report on this score.  I haven't added any new birds to my list although I'm always keeping an eye out wherever I go!

10. And Finally: By the time you read this (if the scheduling of posts works!) I'll be in Oxford for the World Convention of Bookcrossers, which will no doubt deserve a post of it's own. 

Friday, 3 April 2015

10 Things: Week 13

1. Read: Stardust is finished and I'm still pondering what to read on my kindle. Touching the Void has been languishing as the last bubble bath I had was accompanied by a tiredness induced headache and reading didn't appeal. We had book group on Wednesday discussing Mister Pip where I realised (as it often the case) I got far more out of reading it than I realised.

2. Made: Lots more Amsterdam blocks! In fact at time of typing I have three more tulip blocks and a bit of sashing and I'll have a quilt top!

Good Friday

3. Watched: I stumbled across: Back in Time for Dinner on BBC 2 on Tuesday night. They were up to the 1970's so I'll have to seek out previous episodes on iplayer. The format is a family spend 10 days going through each year in a decade and eating the food of that era.  They're given a kitchen/dining room of the era. I have to say being born in the 1970's I felt quite nostalgic when I saw the garish wallpaper and spider plants. I find these kinds of programmes very interesting because they show how socially things changed, often due to things that we all now take for granted. Like I had no idea that when the deep freeze became popular in 1970's you could go to Iceland and buy your frozen peas, carrots etc loose like you would fresh fruit and veg'.  It was also the era we started to eat convenience foods and the highly processed foods like pot noodle and pickled onion flavoured Monster Munch (two of Chiefs favourites!). Although there was also a movement to be more healthy with 'The Good Life' style of food. Era's on the programme from now on will be especially interesting for me as I've lived through them.

4. Worn  My garden/Flowers: It seems far more appropriate to switch this category to one far more doable - my garden/flowers! Now the weather is warming I'm noticing new things in my garden every day like these green and black iris', which I'm told smell lovely if ever I could be so inclined to get my nose down that far!  Unfortunately the weather has been too rubbish for pictures!

5. Eaten:  Although long over the tummy bug, I still feel a bit funny around food and am easily filled and just as easily put off foods still.  However, yesterday Mum and I took my niece out for Thai tapas.  It didn't upset my stomach one little bit. It was so yummy!

The Railway, Wheatley
Ketchup and vinegar are only in the picture because Mum
had fish, chips and peas

6. Visited/Seen: I've ventured no where of interest this week. I hope to make up for that over Easter.

7. Recommended: I can't think of a single thing to recommend this time. Apart from maybe Cadbury's Mini Eggs. I stockpiled them from the local shop when I discovered the supermarket had run out!

8. Stash: In 0 Out - at least a 1.5 yards so far making tulip blocks and doing the sashing.

9. Birds: Nothing to report on this score. Just the usual suspects arriving at the garden feeding station.

10. And Finally:  I have decided that I will not be standing as a parish councillor in the May elections. I had the forms filled in ready to be proposed and seconded, only I'd had this nagging sensation ever since I had the forms. A little niggle in the back of my head that was growing on a daily basis and then I woke up and decided I really did not want to stand again. Lots of reasons. But  now the decision has been made I feel so much better for it. I have my last meeting in just over a weeks time.
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