Saturday, 28 May 2011

Quietly Impressed!

As we had been over to see an exhibition in a museum in Nuneaton, I realised that we were not very far from son no.2 "Shall we go and see him," I said. Which it was agreed we should and we then decided to ring him to tell him we were half an hour off. He told me to go and look for a yarn shop to give him enough time to tidy up, to which I replied that I had just done that.

We arrived and found a freshly showered son with clean clothes on. Although his room was very lived in, I was extremely pleased to find his white board filled with mathematical equations. Although quite simple in nature it proves he is working for his exams and I for one am very pleased.

So we took him to nearest Toby for a cheap but nutritious meal of meat and veg, which he followed with a fruit crumble and custard. And then we took photos on hubby's iphone. On seeing the next few photo's one can only wonder as to how this boy got into University with parents such as this. Let us just hope his professors weren't watching!

You may notice that Mandycharlie finds it a struggle to dress herself correctly. Fortunately I had only been like this for a few minutes before hubby noticed. (but to be honest that was more luck than judgement as he would never have noticed if he hadn't been photographing us)

I look down, "oops"

And start to re button up.. I then, misaligne it again before getting it right, at which point...

Son no.2 starts making Coochy, Coochy, Coo noises as if talking to a small child, whilst making sarcastic comments about not being able to do my cardi up and whether I might need some help? I think my expression says it all.

Sorted, one more shot for the camera. Just a note to say my friends know I am quite a hefty gal, 5ft 10" in her socks and built for comfort not speed. This boy makes me look small, I must have fed the boy well whilst he was growing. Mind you we have often thought it would be better to buy our own cow just because of the quantity of milk he can drink in a day.

Hubby pretending to be a used car salesperson.. Why are men so funny about showing emotion?

A nice manly hug, laughing at each other.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Malvern Quilts.

On a very windy Sunday, far to windy to go to the plot, hubby and I set forth to go and visit the quilts at Malvern. We had a marvelous time, here are a few of our favourite quilts.

I like this because of its simplicity and the way that although there are many different fabrics used the centre of the squares and the corners of the squares are all the same which seems to bring the whole quilt together.

This amused us very much.

The little fishes

and little shrimps..

A scary lion ready to pounce as you walked around the corner.

The work on this was just flabbergasting.

A closeup, can you imagine just how much thread was used.

A very nice traditional quilt.

And one for a girl - and yes all the dolls came out of their beds to play with. (I was wearing white gloves so I gave one a little tug and was rewarded with a doll, whilst I let out a silly giggle)

Can you imagine having that for a quilt as a little girl..., it would be wonderful.. (this is a not so subtle hint that Carie should get her sewing machine out and make one immediately, if not sooner for Kitty, I'll help if you want, but I think she would love one)

And one for a boy. Yeeeooowwww, (doing airplane impersonations)

It was fun.

Friday, 20 May 2011

And breakfast just got even better!


I thought I would have eggs for breakfast today, and chose two of the larger eggs that have just been laid. And found, not one, but two double yolkers.. To have a hen that lays double yolkers is a prize indeed.

To answer Carie's question about the colour of the eggs. And this is going to amuse non hen keepers. As a general guide the colour of your eggs is determined by the colour of the hens earlobes, seriously, they have really cute earlobes. So, you could have a white hen but if she has brown earlobes she will lay brown eggs. You could have a brown hen that has white earlobes so she lays white eggs. As it is our White Stars are pure white with the most delicate white earlobes which is why we are getting our pretty white eggs.

Here is a photograph of a cockerel. Can you see his earlobe to the right of his eye, that's right the tufty patch that looks about the same size as his eye, that is his earlobe. And as you can see if he was a girl he would lay very nice brown eggs. There are exceptions to this rule but generally that is the way it works out.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

White Stars.

We started to keep chickens over eight years ago, mainly for their eggs but also to add a pretty addition to the garden, such as it is, it is very small. When we began keeping chickens all those years ago we chose a mix of chickens, some that we knew would lay very regularly, over three hundred eggs per year and some that would lay only about two hundred but were completely irresistible, such as my Buff Orpington, who I adored because of her sturdy yet cuddly build and quiet chirruping when she was deep in conversation. We kept our first chickens for many years, even when they weren't laying and were costing us quite a lot of personal energy let alone hard earned pennies to keep them.

Then we had Black Rocks which is a commercial trademarked name (but which the industry instantly recognises) which are Rhode Rocks. They laid well, well over three hundred eggs per year each and laid well for three years, but then we were left with hens that either didn't lay or were destroying the eggs that were laid. It was time to say goodbye. I know that sounds very heartless, but it is a necessary evil if you are keeping hens mainly for their eggs.

At that point, late last autumn, we weren't sure if we needed or wanted any more hens, one boy was off to University and the other is hardly ever home. And so we talked and talked and really couldn't make our mind up as to whether we wanted more hens. So we left it in limbo.

I then started to buy eggs from the supermarket. And even if I bought eggs that were the freshest in date that was available, free range and organic they were pretty nasty compared to a freshly laid egg. To the point that we almost stopped eating eggs!

A few weeks ago, with hubby in tow, I was again looking for the freshest eggs that were available and said to hubby "look these eggs are over £3.00 for a dozen, how much does it cost us for a sack of grain?" "Well, just over £7.00" "Really?!," (enough to feed three hens for weeks) "forget that then, we are going to buy some hens I am so sick of these eggs", to which hubby agreed.

And with that we ventured forth to the Domestic Fowl Trust at Honeybourne and on the journey chatted away as to what we were looking for, I said that this time I would like white hens. To my delight they had three White Stars, which were clearly laying as not only were their combs full and bright red, which is a clear indication that they are starting to lay, they had already laid five eggs in their viewing pen.

White Stars are a quite a slim bird bred just for egg laying they are a Leghorn hybrid, which means they are they won't eat as much as an Orpington to lay eggs, so are much cheaper to keep. They are very nervous and flighty compared to some of the older style hens so possibly not suitable for a new hen keeper, with only three hens they will quickly get to know us so they shouldn't be as flighty as if there were in a huge flock, but they are so pretty and what is more they lay between 300 and 340 eggs per year, each! The sad part about this is that they will wear themselves out quite quickly, three years will be their limit, but on the other hand, we should be getting eggs right through until the darkest days of winter.

They came home with us as did their newly laid eggs, which was a lovely treat. We let them settle in their hen house for a day with food and water before letting them out the next day. We let them out on their second day and remembering they are barn raised hens who haven't seen daylight before, they were very cautious and only came out for half an hour to feed and water. But it was okay because they still had food and water in their hen house.

Day three, they weren't coming out either, so I investigated if everything was okay for them and with the noise that I was making at the end of their run they came out. My camera was ready..

Hens that are really not sure,

an hour or so later I gave them some outer leaves of a cabbage I was preparing and they looked at it, and looked at me as if to say, "what's that?" I am sure they will enjoy learning all their is to know about being a chicken.

"Well this is very interesting"

An egg laid in completely the wrong place, we have since taught them to lay in the egg box. And you may be asking how does one teach a hen where to lay, well normally they like to lay where it is dark and secure, but because these hens didn't know any better because they are barn raised, any place that is dark is okay, such as the hen house, which was difficult as hubby had to crawl into the hen house to retrieve the eggs. But along with that the hen house has an egg laying area which is even darker and more secure so we just left an egg there. And sure enough the hens found it and started to lay their clutch of eggs with the egg that was already there. Simples....

But it is all worth it, look at such a perfectly white almost porcelain egg.

The hens are laying well, their eggs are starting to increase in size, hubby was quite excited today as one egg was a full sized egg. And as for me, well I love the eggs, but I have also missed the hens chirruping along with their triumphant calls as to when they have laid an egg.

Chick chick chick chicken lay a little egg for me,
chick, chick, chick, chick, chicken I want one for my tea...

Monday, 9 May 2011

Lizard Ridge Finished.

At long last I have crocheted all the way around my Lizard Ridge by designer Laura Aylor which I started on January 29th 2008. In one way that seems a long time ago yet in other ways it seems like only yesterday. I haven't only knitted this blanket, I have made many other items along the way. I found that after knitting three squares I needed stimulation elsewhere but it was always very comforting to come home to a familiar project that just oozes so much saturation of colour. The temptation is great to start another one, maybe next year, I seem to have a lot on at the moment.

You can just about see the crochet. I crocheted an extra two rounds of double crochet to make the edge more sturdy along with to show off the colour of the edging a little more. I am nearly tempted to block the crochet edging to make it lay flatter, but am worried that the dampness of blocking may transfer to my bumps, and I do like the bumps that the short row wraps have created. So I am leaving it, with age and wear it will all flatten out eventually.

I thought the teal colour would match the blanket perfectly.

I just love the colours.

So pretty

and vibrant.

And don't forget, ...

they're be wolves in these parts... who love the Lizard Ridge almost as much as I do.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

What a holiday!

Hubby and I decided we needed a break so I did my usual ebay hunting which involved plugging in the words 'Holiday Cottage Easter', you would be suprised what bargains are to be had when you want a last minute holiday and sure enough up came a very pretty cottage in North Devon. Just over 24 hours later, after giving 'the children' strict instructions not to burn the house down, feed and water the dogs and please don't have a party, (at least not one where the police would be called) we were off. It has been forever since we had a whole week to ourselves and we quickly became good company for each other and pottered around North Devon quite amiably.

First there was rock pooling.

Hubby scampering over the rocks, I am not sure footed these days so my feet stayed firmly on the sand.

There were beautiful rock pools, this one in the shape of a heart.

Gorgeous seaweed in greens that I adore.

And still life's of beautifully flattened pebbles.

Then there was crabbing...

Imagine my excitement when hubby thought he had a big 'un!

Me in zen like pose, I was completely at peace listening to the seagulls and the waves crashing against the sea wall.

There were walks along beaches.

And time spent gazing out to sea.

A local Alpaca farm had an open day.

And we went to the zoo.

We went to a restaurant partly owned by Damien Hirst

Where his art is surrounding you. (fortunately not cows cut in half!)

We travelled to John Arbon's new shop in Lynton and bought a jumpers worth of Knit by Numbers which is dreamily soft and is a very pretty tweedy green.

But the best part of the holiday, the absolutely best part was when Martin Storey invited us to tea. I'd emailed him to say we were in his neck of the woods and to ask him where were the best yarn shops which is when he told me about John Arbon's new shop and then Martin invited us to tea. I was terribly excited and could barely contain my nerves, donned my best holiday attire and sun hat and ventured forth. Martin is lovely and made us feel most welcome.

He has a very beautiful home, with stunning views over the sea.

Hubby dwarfed by the size of the sitting room.

Martin in comfy repose.

Martin and I chatted away for nearly two hours about all things knitterly, it was absolute bliss and a memory I will keep with me forever.

And as if our holiday couldn't get any better, we watched the Royal Wedding, had a good lunch and started to think about packing when we decided we would wander around the harbor, we drank tea and I knitted and just as we were about to wander home we spotted a fishing boat unloading its catch and bought two lobsters live and kicking straight of the boat.

What a last supper! I dispatched them, sorted out the doings and lavished butter on them and roasted them in the oven, they were an absolute treat.

And then hubby stopped off at Get Knitted on the way home. The shop took my breath away, it is glorious.

And amongst all of this we had fine dining most evenings, ice creams and a most memorable cream tea. As I say, What a holiday!