Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Autumn days

Sunday was gorgeous. Blue skies and sunshine, but golly it was cold - winter is definately on it's way!

Hubby spent most of the time there sorting out the bonfire ready for two weekends time when we are allowed a fire at the plot (one of only two days a year). He also chopped down a greengage that never was (it was a sapling from another greengage that I hoped might give me fruit but didn't).  A shame, but it was getting big and I can't have an unproductive tree taking up valuable space on my plot. 
I tidied up the raspberries, cutting out old stems and tying in the new.  I cleared the frost bitten butternut squash bed and collect the grand total of two pear sized, unripened fruits. I really must try to sow them earlier!!

The raspberries looking much neater.  The greengage would have been in this pic just behind where the right hand post is.

Frosted BNS

It was smashing to see how well the onion and garlic are doing.  I'm really pleased with the progress in only a few weeks.


Kiddies were busy again - The Girlie planted her strawberry runners - her bed is doing really well considering she started off with a handful of strawbs.  The Boy dug up a massive dock all by himself and then dug a big hole.

At home the alpine strawberries are still going.  They are so brilliant.  You don't seem to get a glut and there's never more than a handful to be picked, but I've been eating them for nearly 5 months.  They're self seeding/sowing too, these ones planted themselves - yum! 

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

New range

So I spent the last 3 weeks preparing stock for a fair that never happened.  I won't go into details as there's nothing I could do about it, but needless to say I've a fair amount of ceramic pendants and fused glass earrings that I will be updating to my website in the near future.  I've also put my name down for a table at my local school's Christmas Fayre.  Hopefully I'll still do okay.

I've a few different style pendants.  The top pic is of the disk pendants and these are my flower range...


They are all handmade, handpainted and made into pendants by me.  I've also made earrings and some brooches too.  The hubby designed some new cards for the earrings which I feel really sets them off well - to get an idea of scale, the cards are a bit smaller than business card size.

Earrings (the posts are silver plated) ...

The brooches....

I've been loving working with the fused glass.  I made lots and lots of lovely fused glass studs.  These are with sterling silver posts....

In my last post I talked about fused glass pendant sized pieces.  Well I have had another go and am very pleased with the results.  I made my own stringers and made up the pieces much more evenly (note the four at the top on the right.  These were from the first batch that I re-fused with the addition of another layer of clear glass).

And the results (sorry about the poor photo)...

I'm really pleased with these.  They are what I was hoping for and some of the dichroic effects are really interesting to look at.  Next challenge is hanging them.  I have found some strong glue, but it so far only works on the flat rolled bails and not the leaf bails - I'm going to be experimenting with different glues I can see!  I want to do more pieces with my own handmade  bails fused inside the glass or even holes added afterwards too.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Busy busy!

I've been a right busy bee. I was finally allowed to buy some bullseye glass to play with in my lovely little kiln.  Here are my first (rather dodgy) attempts. 

I feel I have a fair bit to learn!  I managed to get a few pieces from my first batch that I am pleased with, but as I didn't know what I'd like doing the whole lot were a bit of a mish mash of styles and techniques.  Plus the mixed pack of glass I ordered (so I'd have lots of lots of different glasses to try) came with very little opaque glass - in fact it only came with black, a small bit of red and a piece of yellow - the rest was all transparent.  

I was happy with how they looked when they went in, but not as impressed when they came out.  Firstly, I think I over cooked them a bit.  I followed a schedule for an SC2 but I think it's a bit high for my Caldera?? Anyway, it was a little too blobby for my liking.  Can I make it less so?? I'll certainly try to make the stack a little more even and will have I'll have another go with a different schedule.

However, I was pleased with my landscape prototypes.  They definately deserve some more playtime :)

Monday, 4 October 2010

Plot and beastie update

So, it's been ages since I've updated on the plot.  We're working through the Autumn jobs, trying to be much more organised than last year.  We've already got the Japanese onions and garlic in (names escape me - I left the labels at the plot!).  We've been clearing gground and generally getting sorted.

First of all though, a few pics from September ..........

Our first (and only) plum.  I managed to pick it too early too (sour - bllleeuugh!), so all in all a disappointment :(  Looked nice though!

Clearing the disappointing onion bed.  There were loads, but all very small and truth be told, too strong.  Hence planting Japanese onions in plenty of time this year!

A fairly decent harvest.  Suede and squashes have been brill.  Apples are tasty (if a little crusty in places) and we've had plenty of courguettes (just because I don't like them I think!).  And a lovely big gladioli :)

This is a pic of the newly cleared and freshly planted onion and garlic beds.  They're not full up, there's just a couple of  rows of garlic in the far bed and onions are in the end of the nearer big bed in the bit behind the 8' cane I laid down to mark the area.  I'm going to fill the rest of the bed with leeks, maincrop onions and anything else oniony.

A couple of weeks ago we made the big decision to remove the jostaberry bush.  As much as I liked the berries it was just too big for where I'd put it and to be honest we prefer rhubarb.  So as the bed was originally for the rhubarb we are going to keep it just for that.  I felt sad to be losing it at the time (it was massive and we couldn't get it out without chopping it right back so no chance of donating it).  It's created loads more space however, and felt right (even if it was a bit sad :( ).

The Mystery Of The Baby Mouse
Sounds like an Enid Blyton book :)  they were one of my faves.  I wonder if I'd still like them 25 years on? (!!! is it really 25 years?!).  

So, hubby was clearing away the weeds around the bed that is soon to be for the broadies when he looked down and what should he see on the floor by his feet but a baby mouse?!  We were rather baffled as to where it had come from.  Hubby thought that it may have come from under the edge of the carpet as that was where he had been yanking the weeds out, but no, there was an ant's nest there.  We wondered what to do with this little baby mouse.  It was very young, hadn't even opened it's eyes yet and wasn't furry, just wrinkly.  We weren't going to keep it.  We didn't really want it on the plot (I'm about to put broadies and peas in!) but couldn't bring myself just to leave it to die (probably a massive mistake, but I feel that we've probably got enough on our plot to lose a bit to a family of mice - I'll probably regret it when they multiply into thousands!).  

Anyway, Hubby then decided to lift up a slab and lo and behold there was mummy mouse in her nest and three more of her babies.  Mum scarpered pulling two of her babies behind her.  We popped them back in the nest and our baby mouse too and put the slab back down again.  We then packed up to go home, crossing our fingers that mummy mouse would come back (if she did - great, if she didn't - well, I guess that'd mean we had less of a mouse problem on the plot).  We checked the next weekend and there she was with her (now furry and alert) babies. We also found another nest further up the plot (hmmmm!?).  We checked again last weekend and they'd all left.  Doesn't take them long eh?

The slabs that the mice were under.  It's the clear one just the other side of the pile of weeds.

I have pics from this weekend too, just a few of the newly weeded and prepared broadie and pea bed and apples, but blogger is not playing nice and won't let me upload - pah!  I'll try to remember to do it another time.

In my back garden I've had bird feeders up and full in a homage to Cragside, but up until last week I've really had nothing but two fat pigeons and a blue tit.  However, last week I did get a robin - yay!  We're on a roll now! :)  I'm hoping that once it gets a bit colder and food gets a bit more scarce that the birds will find my amazing feeder and become more regular visitors.  Especially as out the front of the house we have goldfinches and long tailed tits!

Me and the kids were fascinated by a MEGA sized Garden Cross spider that is in our front window (thankfully on the outside!).  Seriously, his lady's backside is the size of a penny!  We've been watching her for a few weeks, building her web etc.  The other week we noticed a very brave fella cautiously making his way up to her......



Oooh la la...... :)

Run away!!!! :)

Very entertaining!  And he got away without being dinner! Brill!

And finally, a pic we took on a walk around the nature reserve.  You'd never know that is a gravel pit warehouse over the back!

Monday, 13 September 2010

Northumberland Jollies!

Goodness.....I missed August!

I can't believe it's midway through September already!  I can't say that I have been busy exactly, but I never seemed to have time to blog over the Summer hols (mostly due to the Boy hogging the computer to YouTube Dinosaur King!).  I've loved the holidays though, we've done lots of things - all sort of little and not totally awe-inspiring, but lovely nonetheless. All back to normal now!

This post is dedicated to our holiday touring round Northumberland in our little Eriba. I warn you though, it's a LONG one (and may be dull for others, like looking at someone's holiday snaps.....).  However,  it's my blog and I make no apologies. We made four stops staying 2 or 3 nights at each place.  It was a whirlwind tour, but I do feel that we got a good sense of what Northumberland was all about.

We started the holiday by trying to find and fit new brake shoes to the caravan.  I am now an expert in such matters, including the appropriate time to use the hammer!  Not nice to be trying to get the wheel back on at 9pm before you're due to go the next morning!  Uggghhh!

Anyway, all ended well and off we went.  First stop was just west of Newcastle near Heddon-on-the-Wall.

I had specifically chosen the four campsites for their views, however, not one of them had a decent view from our van :( .  If we had been in a tent we would have had some stunners.  It was a real shame.   I understand that they are trying to get some shelter from the wind at the sites, but surrounding the campsite with 10 foot hedges meant no view at all!  For example, this glimpse through a little hole in the hedge would have been our first view had there been less tree.

Enough moaning, here's the places we liked best.....

Beamish Open Air Museum.    We loved this place, the tram rides were a real hit and we got to see life as it would have been in 1913 and 1825. 

Miners cottages and their back gardens.

There is a town with shops and businesses as they would have been. Hubby particularly enjoyed the car garage.

There was a terrific band playing in the park where we sat in the sunshine, eating lunch and ice creams, listening to a collection of really 'happy' tunes and rolling down the hill.  What more could you ask for?

The Girlie made friends with a lovely couple in the tent next to us and ADORED playing with the dogs.  I had visions of Crufts.....  The poor things were probably shattered and glad when we left!

Belsay Hall and Castle were the next day's outing.  I nice place to visit and we really enjoyed the walk to and from the castle.  There was an exhibition on called Extraordinary Measures with pieces in the house and grounds which had some interesting (if a little surreal) work in it.  There were some fascinating pieces by Ron Mueck,  but I can't quite make up my mind about the rest.

On the walk to the castle I took a photo of this tree for no other reason than I thought it looked like a reindeer.

Next campsite was near Bamburgh.

We visited Lindisfarne and Holy Island.  An interesting place - with the element of risk - you've got to make sure that you were able to get back over the causeway before it floods at high tide :) .

On the far side of Holy Island there are large flat white stones on the beach.  In the gap between the path and the beach is a stretch of grass.  On the grass lots of people have been building towers with the stones and writing out their names. I thought this was really nice - such a simple thing that keeps changing constantly as the stones get removed to make the next word or message.

Before heading home we parked on the causeway and walked across the massive beach to the sea.  No kidding it took us 25 minutes from setting foot on the beach until we reached the waves!  And half way there it absolutely tipped it down!  We were soaked within a minute or two so no point in turning round - we carried on to the sea before heading back to the car.

While we were on the beach the Girlie spotted this..........

On the back of the Inform London Zoo bit is a number.  Very intriguing!!  With a fair bit of ringing around and internet research on our return (it's not as easy as just ringing London Zoo) we have found out that it is a seal flipper tag and have been in contact with SMRU in St. Andrews. They are going to get back to us with all the information about the seal that it belonged to. I'll update when I have more information!

Alnwick.  A visit to the town, the castle and the gardens was next in the plans.  The gardens was definitely the biggest hit!

Barter Books was a terrific secondhand bookshop in an old railway station.  We loved it here - I've never been in a bookshop quite this interesting before.

The Gardens.  The cascade does a different fountain display every half our.  I managed to take a pic when there was nothing on!!! Typical that!

The fountains are huge though at times and does get you wet if you're not expecting it!  Kids loved it!

Random sky pic out of the car window on the way back from Alnwick.

On the way home we stopped off at another beach half way between Bamburgh and Seahouses.  We adored this beach.  Great sand, calm sea, rock pools and rocks to climb on.  I also managed to take some great pics as the sun started to go down (well, Hubby took one, but I can't remember which one, maybe the last one!?).

The third campsite was at the foot of the Cheviot Hills near Alwinton.  Again in an area of outstanding beauty we had no view - pah! We arrived in torrential rain too - it wasn't our favourite stop.  We did visit some good places though, so not all bad.

Cragside  We didn't actually go inside this one (kids were a bit 'castled out' by now) but the grounds were fun.  They had a 'hunt the animal' task for the kids and best of all was a fantastic bird hide.  The boy had his 'I Spy Birds' book with him so we went in for a while.  It was fab, we saw loads including a bullfinch, a nut hatch and a woodpecker.  Since I've been home I've set up my own version of the bird feeders - very excited, I've been waiting patiently for the birdies to arrive, but all I've had is a robin and two very fat pigeons!

Cragside also has a rhododendron labyrinth.  This place was a little spooky to be honest!  Think Fanghorn Forest!

On the way back to the campsite we stopped off at the ruins of Harbottle Castle.  As a family we loved this place,  I'm not sure why really as there's not much of it left, but it entertained us all for ages!

Final stop was near Hadrian's Wall again and mine and Hubby's fave campsite (the kiddies liked the second one which had a large play area - it was a bit 'holiday camp' for us though - we like more simple camping.  A view and a toilet block is all we need!)

The campsite had an OS map on the wall so we went off in search of 'The Wall'.  Cutting across the top of the pic is what we thought was the wall (the line that looks like a tyre print).  We walked to it, stood on top of the mount that we took to be the wall and was a little disappointed.  We then carried on walking our planned circular route via the pub and back to the campsite.  On route on the hillside across from us we noticed a square foundation of stones and wondered idly what it was.  When we got back to the van, I realised that we hadn't reached the wall!!!!  The green diamonds that say H W Path was actually the wall not the tyre print!!  We were all of 50m away and missed it!

The wall runs over the little hill and behind the fort foundations.  I took this pic for it's view - unaware that we hadn't actually reached the wall! Dur!

As we rolled up to the campsite, this was the view from the campsite gate (obviously not the van, as we had no views from the van - have I mentioned that we didn't have any views?).

Next and last full day we went to Vindolanda .  The Boy loves dinosaurs and anything historyish.  He often tells us that he can't decide if he wants to be an archaeologist or a paleontologist so we thought were on to a winner here! We found this place really, really interesting.  It's a huge Roman fort and the buildings that grew around it.  It was occupied on and off for hundreds of years and each time the current army moved out they would dismantle the fort by chopping it to the ground, chucking in to the holes anything they could not carry with them and covering it all up with a layer of earth.  Then when the next lot arrived, they built their new fort on top of it.  This meant that after at least 10 forts had been built on the site there were layers and layers of foundations and artifacts preserved in the airless ground.

The diggers are all volunteers and many pay to come and dig all Summer.  They were so friendly and keen to show us what they had found it was great.  The archeologist also gave a talk and answered any questions.  The Boy plans to come and volunteer when he is 16.  He needs a adult to come with him, so I guess I'll be going too! :)

The Boy holding a piece of horse tooth that has been in the ground for nearly 2000 years.

Our holiday would not have been complete without actually visiting the Wall.  So the Boy and I climbed up a hill near Vindolanda to stand on the wall that ran along the top (the Girlie and Hubby stayed in the car - wimps!).  It was cold, damp and foggy - but at least I can say I stood on it!


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