Saturday, 26 April 2014

Whistle Stop Catch Up!

I'd meant to be back before now because there has been a quilt finish and another quilt top pieced ready for backing. However, the quilt finish is destined for a present I'd hoped to have handed over by now, so I have to keep the big reveal a secret just a while longer.

Easter was super busy with no sewing. All the more scandalous that when Chief made me a meal I didn't even remove the sewing machine from the dining room table!

Surf and turf fajitas cooked for dinner by chief
surf and turf fajitas

Chief didn't get down until Bank Holiday Monday. We ended up with three days that centred around 'birding'.  This wasn't really planned. The weather was a bit unpredictable and whilst I'd hoped to go to the likes of Blenheim Palace, I was reluctant to pay a premium to go in anywhere only to find it rained and we didn't get value out of our trip. It was a chance to practise bird photography, walk and enjoy the countryside. First off we went to Farmoor Reservoir. We walked a complete circuit of the biggest of the reservoirs and also explored the nature reserve and river side walk. I heard the cuckoo for the first time this year and saw my first swallows.


There was also a lone Turnstone wandering in the margins of the reservoir. I'd not seen one of these before as they're not common around here.


The next day we went to Otmoor. Neither of us had slept well and the weather forecast was pretty dreadful. We were so lucky to always happen to find shelter as the rain did come down. We did a lot of walking and heard more birds than we saw. The warblers are definitely our in force. 

Sedge Warbler
Sedge Warbler

I even managed (thanks to Chief spotting them) to see Bullfinches. I'm always on a mission to see bullfinches and nearly everywhere we go, someone has just seen and photographed them moments before I got there! Not the greatest picture, proof I saw them though.

Mr & Mrs Bullfinch

We had a very late lunch in the Chilterns and a brief visit to Aston Rowant Nature Reserve late afternoon, where Chief got buzzed by a very aggressive but cute Goldcrest. I think it wanted a job on Angry Birds.


A Chiffchaff did a bit of posing too.


The next day we were back at Aston Rowant Nature reserve - this time the opposite side of the M40 (the M40 splits the reserve into two.) There are stunning views. We'd been so active the past couple of days that we hoped for a more leisurely stroll.

View from Bald Hill

View from Bald Hill

Orchid at Bald Hill 
Orchid on Bald Hill

If we'd have stopped at the top of the hill, rather than walking down it, we might have had that leisurely stroll!

Steeper than it looks
Ok this was near the top, walking back up and it doesn't look that steep a walk
Try doing it when you're carrying camera equipment 
including a 400mm lens!

We'd parked in the car park of Cowleaze wood and decided to explore the wood. The bluebells were pretty; I found out later that this wood is usually one of the best bluebell woods in England and this year they aren't at their best. I am not very good at photographing bluebell woods.

Bluebells - Cowleaze Wood, Aston Rowant, Oxfordshire

Cowleaze Wood

We had lunch at Studley Green in a cafe that's known to feed Red Kites on left overs. I made the mistake of ordering a special club sandwich off the menu. I say mistake purely because it was huge. I had to have a doggy bag for some of it. (Too nice to leave behind!) I'd already said no to the cheese and bacon so Chief had it on his burger. The meal was HUGE without it. So huge regulars stared when it came out of the kitchen and one asked if he could photograph it as it was so big! No picture taken by me because my phone was dead. We then spent the afternoon on stools in the car park trying to get decent red kite action photos. Probably to the amusement of other users of the car park. At one point we got some very odd looks from a group of RAF personnel stopping off at the cafe for take out food and drinks. I'm yet to go through those pictures yet.


The kites are fast. They circle en masse and then one will be brave enough to go down, then another and another does. The one in the picture above is eating a chip mid air. They deserve a blog post of their own!

Chief went back on Wednesday and I was back at work on Thursday. (For a rest!) He's up North this weekend working so I could get on with my neglected and partially pieced HipBee quilt. I had all the blocks sewn together. Today I spent time adding a border of co-ordinating squares and then a skinny solid border.

What I'm working on today #hipbees quilt top. Want to get top finished today!

A finished top. Now to work out what to back it with given I'm on a fabric diet. #hipbees

Being on a fabric diet I had to hunt my stash for suitable backing and decided on some fabric I'd bought to make pj's with at the FQR class. (In the end I used an old sheet as I didn't want to mess up the good fabric.) Like a numpty I cut the fabric too short so I've had to add a band along the bottom of the left over fabric and the pattern is running in a different direction. It was my only option and luckily the fabric is quite subtle pattern wise so it's not that noticeable. That'll learn me to calculate backing the same width as the batting!

So that's what I've been up to lately. I hope you had lovely Easters!


  1. Thank you for bringing me here to view your blog again and view your beautiful birds. Just so beautiful and so different to what we see here!
    Love the soft colors of your pretty quilts.
    Thanks for the lovely comment also on my Bird book.
    Have a lovely weekend!

  2. I'm worn out just reading all that!

  3. I love your bird watching photos! I saw one of our swallow tail kites lading near the side of the freeway as we drove past. It's the first time I'd seen one in action up close and it was spectacular.

    I love your quilt!!

  4. Fabulous photos Jan. And the Hipbee quilt is looking great

  5. sounds like a great time .. despite lugging all that equipment up the hill!! Wonderful pictures to show for it xx quilt looking good x

  6. Great outdoor and indoor adventures!
    Loving the DS xxx

  7. Gorgeous quilt, so pretty, I especially love the borders. Stuff the backing. x

  8. Great bird photos, and that quilt looks great loving the little squares round the edge they really pull it all together x


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