Check out my Finished Items on the second page

Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 - A synopsis....

Our family life has been turned upside down just now, so posting here is not happening. But I wrote this for MrNoo as he celebrated his 50th last week, and i wanted to share so I have a record here that this year needs to be remembered for all the good things and not the end that we are travelling through just now.  Take care everyone xx

2012 – Your 50th year Wink 

You told me I couldn’t celebrate your day, that 50 was hard to take, 
You told me it would stress you out, the fear on your face wasn’t fake, 
You asked me please to be kind and quiet, to ignore it as best I could 
But as it’s your special day, we remember the year as we should. 

Instead of focusing on your age, I thought we’d change the plan 
We’d think about the year we had, as we travelled it in your van 
What Twenty Twelve has given us in memories pure and strong 
And with these little gifts I hope, those memories will stay long. 

This was my dad’s decade too – Seventy was he 
And my sister too was Forty, it’s the year for serious ParTY 
My year was not so special, mine was forty four, 
But you took me and Spot away for three days that surely felt like more 

We travelled down to Bridport, and walked along the beach 
We ate beside the seaside which tends to be our niche. 
We banned all phones and internet, we wanted to be alone 
It worked well for us, we needed it, sometimes it must be done. 

We had two cousins visit, one from near and one from far. 
Devon seemed a long way til “Oz Cuz” upped the bar 
Natalie did Chelsea, and loved it every bit 
Cara went to a wedding. It seems Scots weddings are a hit! 

Our Sporting year was mighty fine, Olympics here they were 
London became the centre of the whole world’s universe. 
We watched (too much) and cheered and cried, we laughed a little too 
We filled ourselves with British pride, it was only what was due. 

We went out to the suburbs, and watched the time trial race 
We cheered for Wiggo, Frome and girls, they truly kept the pace. 
Brad got the Gold at Hampton Court, he really was the King 
The Tour de France had started it, he looked like he had wings. 

We carried on supporting, seeing Cav come true in town, 
His arms aloft as he crossed the line, but another Brit took the crown 
The Tour of Britain winner’s name was Jonathon Tiernon-Locke 
We’d lost Wiggo earlier so it wasn’t much a shock? 

Going back a month or two we travelled a ways up north 
To visit a new jazz fest, we packed up the van and set forth 
We drank with friends the Bennett boys, and Aids and Jools and Jim 
And Norman too and Martin B, and we got a big hug off him! 

We loved the smiley music, the weather wasn’t so kind, 
We got to walk a little bit, so we really didn’t mind. 
The sleeping in the tent was hard, so was cooking on a fire 
The rain put paid to Bar-be-Que’s, Our new tent now is higher! 

So moving on, you bought a shed, and gave it the name “Roses” 
Our old shed became so many things, no problem for you it poses. 
You made our chooks a second home, and made it safe for them 
Just as well, it seems, our flock has grown, again and again and again! 

There is still so much to remind you, the Jubilee, for one 
A whole weekend of pomp and pageant, was so cleverly done 
Then there were a good few days at Hayling, for walks in rain and shine 
And gardening in our plot next door, we barely had the time. 

It’s not always been easy, but life just never is, 
The ups and downs give us a ride,  they give our life its fizz 
It makes us be each other’s strength, we take it both in turn 
We look after each other, it’s the way that we have learnt. 

I hope this will always remind you, of the year that we have lived 
The year that held that special day, a day that is a gift 
It’s fifty years since you were born, and for that I give God thanks 
You are my heart, my soul, my shooting star. I am a river, you are my banks.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

How does time pass so quickly?

I couldn't believe when i just saw the date of my last post. I can only apologise for me lack of keeping you informed how life is Cheznoo. So a quick summary

1. Christmas presents mostly bought, ordered and made. Not wrapped yet as I tend to do that late on Christmas Eve to get me in the mood ;)
2. Tree up and decorated and looking (and more importantly smelling) really rather beautiful.

3. Many winter fires have been lit, and long evenings watching bad Christmas films whilst knitting or crocheting have been had.
4. Long winter walks have been taken in some glorious winter frosty weather
5. Apparently life is passing a lot quicker than I am aware of tho'

So on that note I'm going to away and make the most of today's sun shine.

T'il soon (ish) ♥

Sunday, November 18, 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like .......sssssshhhhhhhhhhhh!

Ohmygoodness, I've been so busy with knitting and the Crafters' Barn and normal work and trying to keep the house clean. - Did you miss me?  The Barn has of course got quite busy as we near Christmas, and I am trying to share one product a day on our Facebook page to encourage people to move outside of their normal sellers, it's been good fun tho' perusing through the sellers directory or searching for strange things in the search box to try to find items that are a bit different.

So, just a really quick summary of how the last couple of weeks have been:

I've been playing with the knitting machine (excuse the bathroom mirror photo!) - it's a reversible hat with a contrasting brim, so you can wear it with a folded up brim, in all red stripes:

 Or inside out with an unfolded brim, in blue with red

 and of course both other options inside out and right side in, brim up or down.  The idea worked well, but the finished article is HUUUUUUUUGE, so i need to re-calculate the tension as this would have fit Shrek :D

In Spot-dog news, we went out and bought her a new bed this week. She needed one anyway but I saw this one which has a thermally reflective inside, so it's great for dogs with arthritis or other joint issues as they benefit from their own body warmth as it's reflected back to them. The bed was thin and rectangular around 3ft x 2ft with a brown fleece top and a sort of mesh/polyester bottom.


It's just a screwed up pile of stuff:

Really, you have to wonder why you bother don't you?  And just look at the look on her face *rolls eyes*  
She's also had a bath this week - that was fun (not) although to be fair she didn't move a muscle whilst in the bath....... too petrified i think? LOL

Right, I'm off now to try to make the brim for a Camden Cap that i'm making in Alpaca. Although I can be very technical in my approach to crafting (i have to be as artistic skills are somewhat lacking in my repetoire, so technicality is all I have) but i'm just not envisaging this very well. So i'm just going to bite the bullet and have a go - what could possibly go wrong?!

T'il soon ♥

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Recycling at it's best

MrNoo has been at it again, the remains of the old small shed have become:

a hen house and run:
and a potting bench:

So, my pair that hatched in (errr June some time?) are in the new one, the 5 silkies that hatched last month are where the juniors were and 3 new silkie chicks (yep, I know it wasn't supposed to happen!) are in the hutch. Everyone else is status quo. The chickens are generally suffering from the persistent rain. I had hoped after such a wet summer that we might be in for a dry autumn, but so far that has proven an incorrect hypothesis!  The run where the big girls and boy are is dreadful. I dig it over every couple of days to move the water through as it sits on top in big puddles where they compact the earth so quickly by pacing up and down. Then they drink out the puddles (eeww) which can't be good, and to be honest the smell isn't great with so much wet mud. I'm just about keeping a handle on it with the digging, but if it carries on i'm not sure what we'll do - swap to ducks maybe?

I finally finished my first ever machine knit for me:
The pattern is slanted rib and there are options for a hand-knit or a machine knit version.  My tension ended up way out on the ribbing (lessons learnt and all that!) so it's a bit gathered where the rib had to be attached to the body, and the rib is longer than it should be, and all in all the cardi would fit an 8 ft tall woman who was a size 10/12 with really really long arms. But you know what, I love it, it's warm and snug and I don't care how it looks. :D

That's kind of been it for this week, we've welcomed our first "Aromatherapy and Apopthecary" products into the Crafters' Barn (go take a squizz, they're wonderful and have such inventive names) and we've finally sorted out the image scroller so that it looks pretty on all devices (really, you have no idea how hard that became, every time it looked good on a laptop it looked bad on a phone or tablet and so on and son on!)   Now I think we need to offer better category alternatives..... in the same way that you love a yarn shop that categorises by brand, thickness, fibre or colour. So i think we need to offer similar choices to our Barn browsers? (well not those choices obviously cos that'd be daft, but choices nonetheless)

Right, I have alpaca to knit. Happy Sunday all

T'il soon x ♥

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Steptoe's Yard

(I typed Steptoe's YarN then - freudian slip! LOL)

So it's again been busy Chez Noo, so here is a little roundup of what's been happening:

Someone who doesn't have internet access has asked me to sell her jewellery in The Crafters' barn - I have realised I am not very good at the photography bit though ;) - Her items are made from beautiful Swarovski, Murano, Mother of Pearl and freshwater pearl pieces, and I don't think i'm quite showing the quality....... C for effort, could do better!

As ever, I have been knitting, This is the Ivy pattern from Charted Knitting Designs: A Third Treasury of Knitting Patterns

 .... which became a Merino Cowl

A new client asked me if I would make her some Cowls from her own Alpaca yarn, which has been spun from her pet Alpacas (she may as well have said she would pay me to eat cake!) - Best Job EVAH!
We got a new shed which is bigger than the old one and will house my new chest freezer,

 While I went out and got a haircut, the new big shed appeared to have a baby made from some of the old small shed - a little "lawnmower lean-to" to help with space inside:

But the garden may never be the same again (2 days later and I'm still finding "bits" in the lawn LOL) For information, the kitchen looks this way if he cooks too!!

I am beginning to wonder how we ever got what we did in the little shed - already filled the big one, and i haven't put the freezer in there yet!

And finally I went to Ally Pally to the Knitting and Stitching show and bought a few little treasures to play with :

A fabric art embroidery kit which I will do one evening:
 Some embroidery threads - because you often think "if only i had".... well now I have ;)
 A bargain storage box, that is full of little beads and sequins:
 Plus 4 balls of regia sock, an embroidery hoop and a multi-coloured quilting thread to try.

So that according to my camera roll is what I have been up to for the past couple of weeks. There have of course been dog walks, both sunny and rainy. And growing chicks, and another broody hen, and housework, book-keeping,  the bare minimum in chores!

*Phew*    T'il soon ♥

p.s. I have turned OFF word verification AGAIN! blogger seems to keep re-instating it despite my intense hatred of it and the fact that i think it's THE most difficult captcha to read.  So do please leave a comment, and if you ever notice it back on again, let me know :D

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

My nearly ready new craft room

Want to see what we've been up to chez noo lately?

We've been starting to create a craft/work room for me.  I generally work in the conservatory, and i love it there because I can watch the garden, the chickens, Spot can roam in and out, and it's a very peaceful place to create and work. But there are times when I need more space, and there are times (a lot of times this year) when it's raining, when it's just too darn noisy in there. So, after much deliberation i decided to move my spare bedroom into the little box room, and use the bigger room as a crafting room.  So as you can see i have a lovely big table, which I already had.  It's currently covered in one of my as yet unused window quilts, to protect from the heat of the laptop and other scratchy or hot things. - If i ever get round to putting the quilt up where it should be, then there are plenty of other things I can use for table coverings (shock, no???!!!)

We bought a few billy bookcases from Ikea, which are perfect for housing all manner of crafting crap equipment and stash. Believe it or not half my yarn stash is in that wicker basket on the shelf. - I know, it's not much is it?!) However I haven't got the fabric stash out yet and that's going to take some space up.

I also have good room for the knitting machine to stay assembled now. Which is great. I can pop up here and swatch/play/make a mess on it whenever I have a few minutes.

On the big table at the moment is a cardigan I'm sewing together for me. I have a feeling that the sleeves are going to be ludicrously long though.... only time will tell.

The second photo is the view from where I sit at the table. The window is to my left and gives me lots of afternoon light, and in front of me I aim to make a swatch board to fill that gaping space on the wall. After all plain wall is just begging to be filled I think? There is also another big wall to my right which could be used if I don't need to put more shelving up...... but there's still a lot of "stuff" to find homes for so I think more storage will be needed there.

So, where do you work?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Autumn and business is booming!

Well finally I have ousted Spot from the blog and am here to tell you how life is and what I've been up to.

I've been a bit slack on the blog since the Crafters' Barn website went live. It's been a big task and I'd like to publicly thank KMS Web Solutions for all the hard work in getting my somewhat half baked idea up and running and knowing what I was thinking even tho' i often couldn't articulate it.

The Crafters' Barn was a really important project to me for a lot of reasons. As a few of my regular readers know, I lost a good friend to cancer last year and needed a project to keep me focussed and working in a creative way. (Strangely, book-keeping didn't really fit the bill?! - who knew?)  I had originally thought that I would just sell my knitting, probably on Etsy or somewhere like that. But the more I looked into it and worked out the commission rates, the more I realised that it was a pretty complicated calculation to work out how I could make money selling that way, and the longer I thought about it, the more I thought I couldn't be the only one that found it hard.

The Crafters' Barn therefore became a passion of mine. To provide a site for crafters to sell where once they had paid their monthly fees there were no more surprises (well other than paypal fees but we can't help that) Margins, overheads, profit markups...... whatever you want to call it could easily be worked out based on getting stuff on a site to sell rather than a differing amount depending on whether you did sell.

The fee structure was worked out to be approximately equal to listing 10 items in a month on the other main selling sites (which roughly charge 20p per item to list) and that is that. No more fees. *phew*

The site would be easy to use, and safe and secure. It is aimed at all crafters, but particularly those that maybe sell via facebook but are finding that increasingly difficult to administrate and small businesses that are just testing the water in online selling.  I aim to be a springboard to allow people to venture into the virtual world and build themselves a market, and then when they're all grown up, to watch them maybe go off and set up their own site when they are comfortable and have a good base clientèle.

 The Junior and Senior school of online craft selling if you will?

The shops have a few customisable functions. Email contact, logo, and facebook and twitter ID's can all be added to superimpose the banner on each shop. So shops can begin to market themselves and gain interest with their own branding.  Items can be put "on sale" at discounted prices, for ever, or for set periods of time to clear stocks.  And whenever I can I put little guides on to help people sell their items. For example I have a guide about SEO and using metatags, which many sellers don't know about.

All products are submitted to google, and we are already doing quite well in the search rankings for some items, but the more sellers we get who use their titles and descriptions well, the better we will do - my aim is to be first page for many handmade items.

Sellers can also register their own domain and have it point straight to their shop bypassing the Crafters' barn homepage. is an example (a little self plugging there!) So, if they are wanting to start building a business model they can do this, then move their domain off to their own website when they are ready.

The look of the site is young and vibrant. i love its quirkiness. Very different to most of the other craft sites, but fun for its uniqueness.  That doesn't mean we are not working all the time to improve the look, usability and functionality. That will probably be a never ending task.

So all in all that's why i've been a bit lax here with my posting. We have around 70 shops now, of which I think 50 odd currently have stock in them.  I am trying to fit in knitting too, I have finished a few items for sale in the barn, but they're not photographed yet. Plus I have a childs school cardigan on commission and a couple of cushion covers. The orders are racking up now for the chillier months. It's great.

In other news Chez Noo, there are five red silkie chicks that hatched last week - wanna see?????

The little one up top needed a couple of hours down my bra when it hatched as Mum let it get cold :(   But it perked up and now I can't tell which it was as they all look the same size and nice and healthy. So fingers crossed. 5 hatched out of 6 eggs - my best hatch rate ever.

Right, I need to be off to cook my tea

T'il soon ♥

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Jointcare+ Challenge 3 and 4 - By Spot

Ha ha, these were fun. There's no photos though and no video......... I'll explain!......

Challenge 3 was to get photos and video of me fetching the yellow ball from the thrower than Mum got in the challenge package - well turns out I'm not a big fan of yellow.  I went after one and just sat by it - it didn't seem to taste nice like my 7 year old dummy that I fetch. Then Mum tried again and I didn't even bother - wanted her to get the message. She didn't and fetched it herself and tried a third time - we lost the ball! (I say we, i mean she of course, if she had listened in the first place and realised I wan't interested we'd still have it.) - So we kind of failed at challenge 3.

Challenge 4 was a 2 week challenge of photos and videos of me being active.  Well the first week we went to the beach, and we had sooo much fun. I ran and ran on the soft sand and Mum and Dad tried to get me to swim across a small pool that forms, and I ran more, and Mum chased me and we laughed.... but we had so much fun Mum forgot to take photos. And if she thought I was doing it all again ..... HaHa, no chance! I might be feeling good, but I'm not 4!!

Then we went for a long walk up at my favourite place, Newlands corner. Mum had her camera ready, she threw the dummy, i chased rabbits, we romped through muddy puddles..... and all mum got was photos of my bum!! - i was toooooo fast for her (she says it was the camera not being fast enough but we all know a poor workman blames his tools) so no photos there either. (Quietly i'm beginning to think Mum isn't quite as good at stuff as she makes out)

Anyway, it only leaves me to tell you at the end of the trial, how I feel.  Well this is no magic cure, I still ache if I over do it, and I still sometimes need a bit more rest than i used to when I was a spritely young thing. But once I warm up and get out I definitely find it a lot easier to move around and jumping in and out the back of Mum's car is no problem at all.  I still find if i have been laying in my bed for a few hours I'm stiff and it's hard to get up at first but again once I'm up life is a lot easier than it used to be. I've tried demonstrating this to mum by standing up against the trunk of the plum tree to steal ripe plums, and dancing round and round in giddy circles when dinner is nearly ready, and jumping up at Dad when he comes in from work, and jumping up at the table to steal a bonio that got left there. I *think* Mum is getting the message, but I'm not sure she's totally pleased about it, it seems to be making her shout quite a bit.

Honestly there's no pleasing some people.

Love and licks, Spot

Friday, August 03, 2012

Jointcare+ - Challenge 2 by Spot

Hey everyone, Spot here again. Mum hasn't got time to write - she appears to be stuck to the sofa watching that square box - there's lots of screaming and shouting and tears going on here!

Anyway for challenge 2 i had to show a trick that i would do for my Jointcare+ chew.  I do love my chew but i don't really do tricks (let's face it, i barely do good behaviour really, so a trick is probably beyond my ability)  So here i am doing what i do best - Looking cute!

I'm feeling good at the moment, I seem to be a bit more springy out of my bed, but it's early days so I'm not counting my chickens (well i do, everyday i count the ones in the garden in case any are missing but that's a whole different story)

See you next week for challenge 3

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Joint Care+, Challenge 1, By Spot

Good morning everyone, Spot here.  Mum has asked me to write this cos she's really busy with work, so here I am.

Mum got invited to put me on a 6 week Joint care+ trial. I think she got invited cos I'm beautiful and the people at pedigree wanted to see more photos of me?  Although to be honest I'm a bit fed up of having my picture taken.  "stand up, sit down, lay down, look pretty, Spot look this way"  - she's having a laugh isn't she? - This is the best I did for her - I think it confirms my slightly aloof attitude to the photo taking, whilst still admitting that I'm chuffed to be given chews every day?

Anyway, this first week I have to tell you about me, and about how my joints are before the trial.  Lots of you know me cos I have written before, and Mum mentions me quite a bit, but for new readers I have to introduce myself a bit.

So, my name is Tawnyhill Spot and i'm a working English Springer Spaniel. I will be 10 years old on October 20th this year.  Mum got me when I was 18 months old:

Cute wasn't I? (and gosh didn't I have a nice waistline and good muscle definition then!)  I had been kept as a working gundog up until that point but frankly I wasn't very good at it. - well that's the impression I gave my previous owner. Actually I am extremely good at it, but you know, living in a kennel with all those other noisy dogs around, coming out  once in a while and fetching a dummy, which, wouldntyouknow, as soon as I brought back they threw away again, I mean really!! So I stopped fetching it. If there's one thing I'm not, it's stupid. So Mum got me and she didn't throw things for ages we just went for wonderful walks at a place I now know is Newlands Corner...... I love it there.

So over the years mum has learnt that I have only 2 speeds.... asleep or missile, nothing in between. I'm a really peaceful girl and very happy at home in my bed, snoring gently. I like calm and quiet, the occasional cuddle and being brushed.  And once a day we get to go for a walk. Then i change.... my ears move forward, my eyes brighten and look bigger (it's a flirting thing dontyaknow) and my tail dances a dance that only springers would understand.  In the winter we have a walk across a few acres of bracken. I hunt and chase and fetch that dummy for mum (yeah I know, but heck she does look after me and life is pretty cushy round here in my heated home..... don't want to get thrown out of this one!) I see deer, and always stop dead in my tracks like Mum taught me so she can stand and watch them, and I bound over the dead bracken like a deer myself:
 In the summer we walk through woods in the shade so I don't get too hot, I chase squirrels (who always outsmart me by running up trees), follow scents and generally have a good time. We don't play fetch in summer cos I get too hot but we have the best time just meandering along looking at the views.

I really do love where we live and where we walk.

So, as I approach my 10th birthday I have to admit I am beginning to feel my years a little.  All those days of jumping out the car and setting off through the bracken, leaping over the mounds and making my Mum laugh, have taken their toll on my joints.  These days it takes me a little longer to get up out of my bed, and a little longer to jump in the car (although I do still do it myself, no ramps needed yet!) and i don't run off quite as fast as I used to. I can still bound across that bracken when the mood suits, but sometimes I suffer the day after and have to have a days rest.  I'm not old, but i'm getting older  and now and again I notice it, like all species I expect.   Having said that I wait all day to hear Mum say "shall we go for a walk then?" and my ears lift and my tail wags and I jump round and round in circles...... you know just to make it clear that it's a good idea!

So that's a little bit about me and how i am at the moment. Mum says there's a chance these chews (which are very nice by the way) might make me feel a little less stiff, it'd be nice if they do, but if they don't, it's kinda nice trying them!

There's a challenge every week for this trial. This was my first - did I pass?  I don't know if the others involve me writing or me doing stuff, but I expect Mum will keep you all informed of how I'm doing.

Lots of Love, from Spot.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Some knitting.....

I have made a few things for sale in my shop in the Crafters' barn.  I'd like to say that Noo's Knits is getting ready for (sssssh whisper) Christmas, but in truth the weather here is so shocking that they just were things I was inspired to make.

Mostly machine knits for a change, the first is a super long scarf. 6'4" in length and 7 " in width, although obviously that slightly depends on how you hold it as it's pretty stretchy. It's knit in full fisherman's rib across 45 sts on T10/8.  I worked on needle on the main bed with a 3 needle gap and then the 4th needle in work etc. The ribber was the same layout with the working needles nicely lined up in the middle of the 3 non-working needles of the MB. (Kinda obvious I suppose).  I used two yarns wound together, the first is a 4ply pure Alpaca, and the second a laceweight Kid-SIlk (75% kid mohair and 25% silk).

The result is beaufiully soft and snug, but without the weight of some of the long scarves.  It only weighs about 225g.  I make keyhole scarves for those times when you don't want bulk, but this is for when you totally do want to be snuggled up. Maybe taking a walk out with your camera, ambling along.... or just admiring the views around you be they country or town. (It's actually quite hard to put this one up for sale!)

The next two items are prototypes and not available for sale yet - I don't know if they will be.  The first is a cowl I have called Synthesis. As it's a fusion knit on machine and by hand.  Firstly you spend 4 hours making an icord on the machine (that would take months by hand I think!) and then you hand knit that up into a cowl:

I think the icord needs to be a bit wider and looser knit, but I think it would be lovely knit up in something like the yarn used for this:  (which is also for sale ;) )
So that is one of the things next on the agenda, to see if what I see in my head comes up trumps in real life. ;)

Also, I made a pair of socks on the machine. - They have been gifted to my sister as they were just a smidgeon short for me, but they were fun to try and only took around 3 hours to complete including hand ribbing the top:
 They were knit in the round on the main bed and ribber over 60 sts, on T6/6. The legs were 60 circular rows (RC120).  The reason for trying out socks on the machine is that a few people have asked me to make them, but in all honesty to hand knit them you'd have to charge around £200-£300 at least (!!!!) which I appreciate is ridiculous for a pair of socks. But if I can make this work then I think I could sell them around £40 - £50 depending on yarn, which though still expensive isn't bad for what they are....... best socks you'll ever wear! ;)

The Crafters' Barn is coming along really well. We now have over 50 shops (shock!) which is amazing, and I am so grateful for all the support I'm receiving.  We still have improvements to make. I think mostly in the browsing experience for buyers, but do pop along and have a look. We have some wonderful artists.  I have been asked to write a guest blog post for Handmade Crafts about starting the Barn and the ethic behind it, which is why you still haven't seen it here. It's not written yet as i haven't quite had the time I want to put into it, but I'll post here when it is, with a link to where it is! ;)

So now I just need to get to grips with the lace carriage on my machine. At the moment I can't really make sense of it, possibly because I don't have any proper punchcards for it, so I'm missing the markings that tell you what to do, and I can't understand yet quite how it works.  I will need to punch a card myself following instructions and mark it up with carriage directions, then i might begin to get to grips with it.

So, next time, that could be what you see (or not!)

'Til Soon ♥

Monday, July 02, 2012

So much fun it hurt!

I've just been away for a weekend at Dove Holes jazz festival.  Ohmiword, I cannot begin to tell you the fun we had.

We drove up on Friday, and arrived just in time to put the tent up before the gale force winds struck! Dove, is by its own admission, an unspectacular little village just above Buxton in Derbyshire. But whilst the village iteslf may not have any great claims to fame (other than, of course, this annual jazz delight) it is set in the most beautiful area of the Peak district. Our drive up was slow and deliberate as we marvelled as always at the changing scenery our little island bestows upon us.  We left Surrey, drove up the M40, saw the Red Kites flying across the fields in Buckinghamshire, big arable fields on either side of the motorway, the occasional deer or pheasant nestled in the middle of some of them! On to the M6 and the M6 toll, and then off a lot earlier than we had both anticipated to the A38 from Burton Upon Trent (It was on the signposts as Burton -U-Trent, and we wondered, given the extraordinary amount of rain we've had this year, whether that was Upon or Under) On we travelled, round the side of Derby, and then the scenery began to change again, to the wilder looking grasslands, on a little bit further, gentle change by gentle change, until we came upon the full blown landscape of the Peak District..... Stunning, absolutely stunning.

Unfortunately there are no photos, because quite frankly the weather prohibited the taking of anything other than raindrops, but take my word for it, the area is beautiful.

As I say we arrived just in time to get the tent up, then off to the nearest supermarket for milk and supplies (god bless the iphone and a little app called Around Me which finds you the nearest supermarket/pub/cashpoint etc)  As it happens there was also a little cafe in Morrisons and so we had an early evening meal to save cooking in the rain (turned out to be a good move)

As we began to get our bearings we also began to see familar faces. The wonderful thing about these jazz festivals is that you do slowly begin to recognise each other. Of course there are dear friends that you meet and chat to at one time or another, and always it is such a pleasure to see each other again. We walked into the Pub on that Friday night, for the first nights entertainment by the wonderfully talented Bennett Brothers, with Adrian Cox (taking a weekend break from playing with Bad Manners!) and Dorine De Wit, and so many hugs and smiles and laughs. To look around was to see a sea of smiling faces. It truly made your heart sing.  As the band played, the smiles got broader. There was no room for dancing (in all honesty there was barely room for standing) but we tapped our toes, and wriggled our shoulders to the beat, and sang out and laughed, and smiled til our faces ached. Daddy Bennett got up and sung one number with his boys, which was wonderful, and Dorine sang a song, which instantly made me think of my dear Uncle John, "Midnight special"....... a lively, bouncing song which I couldn't help but mist up to a little, as i remembered John in the later weeks of his life singing it from beginning to end..... I had never known the song before, but now I equally remember and treasure each word.

MrNoo and I were standing at the bar for the entire gig.....we were way too late for tables or chairs (by about a fortnight I think!)  But the good part about that was that we were pretty close to the band - they were stood a the end of the bar..... we watched as Richard sang and played and closed his eyes, a smile slowly creeping across his face, someone had just played something clever? or he pictures the music or the story he tells? or he'd realised he'd forgotten the words to the next verse?  - Who knows, but that smile was a privilege to see. Somewhere deep within themselves these wonderful young musicians find the very bones of old trad jazz, and make it their own, and it makes them smile as much as it does us...... that's pretty awesome.

On Saturday after a night in a slightly soggy, but still on the ground (for which we were grateful) tent, We decided to go for a walk, and went up to Lady Bower resevoir and Derwent water, which was one of the places the bouncing bomb had been tested in UK in World War II

Info about Dam Busters:

Top of the dam:

Bottom of the dam - clearly it hasn't rained quite enough yet?!

We walked about an hour and a half along the edge of the resevoirs, and were thrilled to see so many people out walking and cycling. Young people with t-shirts and rucksacks.... (presumably carrying a waterproof coat - they'd have needed that later) Lots of people just on their own taking a Saturday morning walk.... it was good to see.

Meanwhile, us old codgers, having walked an hour or so up hill, turned back down, and revived ourselves with the realisation that by the time we got back to Dove, the afternoon jazz would be well under-way and the beer would be flowing. ;)

We got back just in time to see Gentleman Jim McIntosh.  Jim is a well known banjo player (he should be well known, he's been doing it long enough) but we were in for a wonderful surprise and treat.... he fronted the band this weekend ..... On Trombone! Fabulous stuff.  Musicians are an incredible species, give them something that makes a noise and they can make a tune out of it.  - That's not to say it's easy. I know Jim worked hard practising to get "match fit" on the trombone. But he did a sterling job, and it was so much fun to see him do something different.  We were also blessed to hear the wonderful voice of Christine Tyrrell again. I haven't see Christine since Phil Mason's band stopped playing together, but this wonderful gospel singer is a pleasure to see every time. We had a good natter afterwards too.... a few years' of gossip to catch up on!

Other than that we spent the rest of the weekends ambling between the beer tent where Martin (daddy) Bennett seemed to be playing all the time  (deserves a medal) with an array of interlopers, jammers, and family members!  (That marquee nearly lifted off it's scaffold, and not due to the weather - due to the intense energy that was consistently on offer in there.) and the community hall which served up the Bennett boys and their band again, Jim mcintosh and a couple of other bands who were all fabulous.

The festival itself, was lively and light-hearted. Fun, easy going, and full of exceptional talent.  I am lucky in that I can call a good few of the performers friends and that makes it all the more special. To have time to catch up and have  a laugh together, then watch them do what they do best, and make an audience laugh, cry and join in singing, all in a few breaths....... well I am blessed is all i can say.

Loved every minute, danced in the rain,  laughed so much my belly still hurts, and came away feeling like we'd had a good few days rest.

My next blog post will be about finally opening  The Crafters' Barn, new website and the journey I now find myself on for crafters everywhere! ;)

T'il soon ♥

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Weed Control Products

 A couple of weeks ago I was asked to do a sponsored blog post for Roundup gel - never one to turn down an opportunity to blog about something new (I do sometimes find it hard to get inspiration) I jumped at the chance.

Now, it turns out that since then, we appear to have had pretty non stop rain. I had tried the gel a couple of times but I am pretty sure it got rained off before it had been there 2 minutes to be honest.  So, in light of the fact that this post has been waiting a while, and we have the promise of a dry afternoon, I have started again and will call this, somewhat optimistically, blog post #1 of 2 !

The reason I was happy to do this is that I don't really like using weedkillers or any other non-organic means of any kind of pest or weed control where I can help it.  I have chickens, and if I use spray weedkiller that means I have to be a lot more careful about where i let them roam, and what i do with rakings and cuttings. (My hens are my compost bins normally) So this seems ideal, a thicker consistency weed control product that I can apply more particularly, exactly where i want it.

It comes in a plastic container, a similar shape to a stick deodorant, (but bigger)
You take the lid off by squeezing two tabs either side of the container just under that green lip (I am saying that cos it took me a while to see them) and you get this:
(Well you get that when you have taken the foil protector off and clicked that blue button on the side for what seems like 50 times to get the gel up to the top)

We have a little bit of land next door that the chickens had had their run on a few months ago - the grass has all been cleared (they're good at that) but quite a large patch of deep rooted weeds have regrown):

The Roundup gel is easy to apply, and it tells you on the container how many "clicks" of gel you need for different types of weed.  It's sticky, thick consistency means it definitely does only go where you put it, but the downside to that is that i found you had to hold the back of the leaf to smear the gel on - that really wouldn't work for stinging nettles !! (Well, not without a good pair of gloves anyway).  I did try it on the lawn weeds as I have a lot of dandelion type weeds, and i was doing a review it seemed a good idea to try, but again the need to press fairly firmly against the leaf made the application difficult in those circumstances, and I think I got as much on the grass as i did on the weeds.  

My verdict for the application of the Roundup Gel weed killer is that for areas of a few, large weeds - bindweed, bramble, etc it would be great. It would negate the need to spray everything in sight, and if you were planning  something where you just needed to rid an area of a certain few large weeds, or if you have a rambling bramble climbing across your best perennial bed,  it would be perfect in terms of ease of application. But if you have a lot of dense weeds or small leaved weeds (it says it will do couch grass but i have no idea how you would apply it to something so thin and flexible, maybe using an old paint brush) then I don't think the gel would really be the right product.

Hopefully, if you tune back in in a fortnight or so I should be able to show you the result of it as a weed control product - well that's if it doesn't rain again of course.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

I'd love to write, but....

.... There are actually hints of blue sky outside,

and that's the first time I've seen anything but dark grey in the best part of two weeks..... So I'm afraid I have a prior engagement with a weedy veg patch. Be back soon ;-)

- Posted using BlogPress

Saturday, June 02, 2012

and wham!!! 2 weeks have passed

Seriously, I blinked and missed 'em! ;)

My beautiful cousin was here for a couple of days - all the way up from Devon so she could visit the Chelsea Flower show. She stayed here two nights, coming up after work one day, going to Chelsea the next, and then driving home the third day. It was wonderful to spend a little time in the evenings chatting whilst sitting on my deck under my beautiful fairy lights. Listening to the hens clucking themselves to sleep. I feel very lucky that I come from such an awesome family. We don't get to see each other all that often as we are spread far and wide, but it never affects our relationships, we are as close now as we were when we were children.  It's interesting to see those personality traits that obviously come from genetics rather than background!! (misplaced your keys lately anyone?!)  Anyway, it was an honour to be able to help her meet her Chelsea dream, I hope we get to do it again one year.

In other news........ I've been knitting, and working hard on the Crafters' Barn (the new site, so I won't link)  It's coming along swimmingly and I've got someone in to do the T&C's now as well, so I'm beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel.  It feels it's been a long time coming, but it's been such a dream of mine to offer this website to all small business crafters out there.  Won't be long folks!

I have loads of knitting to do too. Laika is finished and it's beautiful, but it needs buttons so I'm not showing it until it's done (despite the fact that it's been worn several times already)  I'm now knitting some men's socks for a client, just plain vanilla type gardening socks.  Nice summer knitting really, quite mindless and not lots of heavy yarn sitting in your lap!

So a photoless post, that's not good is it??????


She's always happy to oblige ;)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Quick Getaway - West bay, Bridport

The wonderful MrNoo took me away for a few days last week to celebrate my birthday (or to run away from it depending on your outlook!)  We spent 2 nights at West Bay, Bridport in Dorset.

We drove down on Tuesday leaving home at 8:30 to make the most of the day, and ambled through the New Forest and then along the coast.  We stopped in Weymouth for breakfast and then poodled along the coast road from there, looking out over the deep blue sea, and checking out the infamous Chesil beach from the vantage points along the road.  We stopped not long before our destination when we saw a little car park with a walk leading down to the beach, and lots of dogs about, so decided to walk Spot as she'd spent a few hours in the back of the car by then.  We walked down, played on the shingle, and then decided to walk westward for a while, along the coast path, just to get the lay of the land. - After about half an hour, we came across this:
A little oasis!!!  Luckily MrNoo had a few quid in his pocket so we popped in for tea!  It was well set out, with plenty of dog bowls outside with water which was great - although the sky is blue, it was pretty chilly so really it was only dog walkers who were there!

Anyway form there we drove on to the hotel and checked in, walked along the pier/harbour wall, (it was windy - but I still got a sun-burnt nose!)

looked at the view, and then decided to drive out further westwards for the evening.  We checked out Lyme Regis, Seaton, and Sidmouth, and ended up having a very respectable curry in Sidmouth.

My birthday was on Wednesday, so we firstly headed to Bridport for the market, didn't buy anything, but it was OhSoNice to walk around shops and stalls that weren't all clothes and cosmetics (I'm not much into either!)  We meandered around the vintage stalls, and admired the bakeries, and oohed and ahed at a Butcher's window (there aren't many butchers round here- we lost them all to Sainburys years ago,  a particular bug bear of mine)  It's the simple things isn't it?!

After that we headed to Portland to look out across the view

 and after a quick cup of tea we headed back as I had decided I'd like to go back to the beach restaurant for lunch as I'd noticed they had an amazing fish menu, so back we trundled - dog in tow.  .  I had the most incredible crab salad, (I have a bit of an issue with shell fish that it doesn't always like me, but decided it was worth the risk, and i was soooooo right!)

As we were eating the weather turned cold, so for the afternoon we drove to Exeter to placate MrNoo by visiting  a shop he had wanted to go to.......... I'm nothing if not accommodating! ;)

The rest of the day and evening were spent moseying along the coast, taking photos, pulling in to layby's to watch Buzzards hunting, and watching all manner of wildlife through some rather awesome binoculars.  I saw my first ever yellowhammer!  As the evening drew on the wildlife got better and better - foxes, a hare, rabbits, we sat for ages watching all sorts!

The last day rained :(   So we drove home the scenic route - along the coast past Weymouth to Swanage, Poole, Bournemouth Christchurch and then up through the New Forest to home.

We had banned mobile phones and internet access between us as we both have a tendency to get side tracked (OK more me than he!), and it was a really good call. The 3 days felt like longer, and we both had a really restful and peaceful time.

Now I'm back with loads of knitting to do, and ready to start work on the Crafters'Barn website again, as the last web developer disappeared on me (that might be a post for another time!)