Sunday, 22 October 2017

Back to some sewing.

Last Saturday John and I headed off to Alexandra Palace for the annual Stitching and Knitting Show. I try and go to a show most years and since this one is in London it is very easy to visit. We decided to go by train as there is very limited parking but as always happens at the weekends the trains were delayed due to engineering works. In the end the delay was only half an hour so it didn't spoil the day, and neither did the walk up the steep hill from the station. Even the crowds didn't feel as bad as last year.

I was only planning on looking but I found this extra wide grey and white fabric which is perfect for my quilt backing.



Now all I need to do is piece the backing as I want to use some of the left over fabric from the top in the back and then I can make up the quilt sandwich. I've got a few ideas for the quilting but I need to have a little practice before I start on the quilt. I have some fabric to make up another couple of bath mats and these will be perfect practice pieces. 

As always we treated ourselves to a tasty lunch and in the afternoon looked at the quilts and artwork on display. John saw a picture that he really liked and I bought it for his Christmas present. We couldn't take it home as the exhibition is going to Harrogate at the end of November, so it will be delivered after that. I forgot to take a photo so I can't show you what it looks like at present. We also bought a light box so I can draw out my embroidery patterns more easily. There was a lot of scrumptious fabric and yarns but I am trying to clear my backlog of projects so resisted the urge to buy lots of things.

Last week I did a little work on Abigail. I didn't have a lot of time as I was trying to clear my workload from work. I started my radiotherapy on Friday and I'm not really sure how that is going to affect me at the moment. In case I need to take time off sick I wanted a clear desk. I haven't got any teaching commitments until the beginning of December but the day to day organisation needs to run smoothly. I'm having 15 days of radiotherapy running Monday to Friday. I have early appointments so if I'm OK I can go into work or work from home. I do have sensitive skin and I'm expecting to experience some problems. After the first treatment the skin was sore overnight but was better by Saturday morning. 

Abigail is the latest Bag lady and I love this pattern.




Here's what I've done so far.


I think I love this pattern so much because of the pink duffel coat. Many years ago when Lucy, my youngest daughter, was four years old I made her a pink duffel coat and she looked so cute. She loved the coat and would wear it all the time. Oh happy memories.

At the beginning of the week I had a little package arrive. Back in June I ordered a novelty pack of buttons in order to get the little pair of scissors to use on one of the bag lady pieces. The mailing label says it was mailed on the 2nd October so once it was mailed it had quite a quick journey from the United States to the UK. I'm very pleased to have received them but I would have liked to know the company couldn't mail them earlier, a quick email would have been useful. Anyway I can now completely finish off that bag lady. Once I've added the scissors I'll post a finished photo.


What's left of this evening will be hand stitching on Abigail. I'm linking this post with Kathy from Kathy's Quilts for her Slow Sunday Stitching link up. Pop over and see what everyone's working on this week.

Lyndsey

A trip to Worthing.

This last few weeks have been very tiring with two new student groups starting and therefore lots of admin bits to sort out. Knowing it would be busy John and I organised an overnight trip to Worthing at the beginning of the month. The reason for picking Worthing is that it allowed us the opportunity to visit Cissbury Ring, Pagham Harbour and a quilt shop.  I had to go into work on the Friday so we started our journey quite late which didn't leave us any time to stop and visit somewhere on route so once we had found our hotel we went for a walk along the sea front and found a restaurant for dinner. Looking out to sea we were fascinated by the off shore wind farm. Worthing also has a pier but we decided against a walk around the pier and stayed on the promenade. Quite a lot of folks were out walking.

We woke early on the Saturday morning and after a leisurely breakfast looked up the address of the quilt shop decided to walk to it. The shop, The Eclectic Maker, was fairly small but had a good range of fabrics.




There was a classroom at the rear of the shop and a class was in progress. I needed some wadding for my compass quilt and I was pleased to find they sold Warm and Natural at a very reasonable price



I wasn't particularly looking for fabric but I couldn't resist these two pieces.



I particularly love the bird fabric and I think orange is my favourite colour at the moment. John also bought me a fat quarter bundle to go in my Christmas stocking. He's very good at making his purchases without me being aware of the fabric, so it's a nice surprise when I open it on Christmas morning. We walked back to to the car collecting coffee on the way and headed out of Worthing for Cissbury Ring. 

Cissbury is a hill fort on the South Downs. It is the largest hill fort in Sussex and second largest in Britain, covering some 60 acres. The earthworks that form the fortifications were built around the beginning of the Middle Iron age which would be approximately 250 BC. It was abandoned at some time between 50 BC - 50 AD. The site of the fort also contains a Neolithic mine, one of the first flint mines in Britain. We walked around the inner wall of the fort which is about a mile round. The wind was blowing quite strongly so it made for a bracing walk. The view from the fort was good but the morning was quite misty and there was a fine drizzle of rain.



The path around the inner wall was easy to follow but in places rather uneven.



In the middle was this fabulous tree.



and of course a trig point at the high point.



There were a lot of ponies within the ring. These two took no notice of us as they went on munching away.


Back at the car we checked the map and set off for Pagham Harbour. This is a natural harbour or inlet in West Sussex. The harbour forms an area of saltmarsh and shallow lagoon. It is a site of special scientific interest and a local nature reserve. We followed one of the paths for quite a way and enjoyed the bird life and butterflies that were around. We then spent some time watching a variety of birds on the water and at the waters edge including an Avocet. By this time the light was fading and it was time to head back to London.

It was a short breathing space in a busy few weeks but it helped us recharge and relax before returning to work. It also gave us time to ourselves and space to enjoy each others company which is most important to any relationship. We are already planning the next away days.

Lyndsey

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Is it really 45 years?

Last Saturday I met up with 29 ladies that I started my nurse training with over 45 years ago. We actually started training on 21st August 1972 and apart from maternity leave I've been working ever since. There were 45 of us who started that day and on Saturday 30 of us made it to the 45th reunion. Not only was the date my 45th anniversary of starting my nurse training but also of leaving home and moving to London. I'm not particularly surprised that 45 years on I am still working and using my nurse registration. I no longer work in the clinical area having moved into teaching in 1982, 35 years ago, but you have to be on the nursing register to teach nursing  and this involves keeping your registration up to date. No, what surprises me more is that I'm still living in London 45 years on and that I don't have any plans to leave it.

I trained at The Royal hospital of St Bartholomew which is situated in Smithfield in the City of London. The hospital is often just referred to as Barts. When I started training it had general medical and surgical ward, obstetrics and gynaecology, children's wards and the specialist wards cardiac surgery, Ear nose and throat, Ophthalmology and Neurosurgery.  However a lot of our patients were being treated for cancer, especially the rarer types. It wasn't until I left the hospital that I realised what a specialist training I had received and that most doctors and nurses over their career would not see any patients with some conditions that I had seen. 

Many of the buildings were old, except the new block which housed the specialist wards.


This is the King Henry VIII Gate at Barts which was completed in 1702 The picture is courtesy of Wikipedia as I don't have a photo of it. You can read more of the history of Barts here



The hospital is built round a square and during the summer we would wheel our orthopaedic patients who were on skeletal traction out into the square to enjoy the weather. The fountain pond used to have goldfish in it but when I visited last weekend there were no fish. Now the square is pedestrianised and so much nicer for patients and visitors.

Inside the buildings the ward were all traditional open plan nightingale style wards. They are great to work in as you can see all the patients but not so good for patient privacy The hospital has changed dramatically since I left and on Saturday walking into the George V  block I found a whole new world. The front of the building looked the same but inside this is what I found.




Good gracious were had the long narrow corridors with the dim lighting gone. I had gone with a small group of my set to see the place and we were too amazed to hunt out the wards and see what they looked like. After 45 years you need to preserve your memories. The hospital was old style but the training was excellent and we had such fond memories of our time there. We decided that we liked the new hospital but we wouldn't investigate further  as we'd rather hang onto our memories.

As I said earlier there were 45 of us who started training together and 30 of us attended the reunion. Some people were very difficult to recognise but other didn't seem to have changed at all. Here's a picture taken on 21st August 2017, the day we started training.


Image may contain: 29 people, people smiling

and here are 30 of us 45 years later! I'm 5th from the left on the top row in the photo above. Don't you just love the old style nurses uniforms. I'm the one on the left with the blue jumper and very little hair in the photo below. My hair is growing quite quickly and now I've finished treatment I really must get back to losing weight and toning the tummy!


Miranda was taking the photos so here is one of her. 


The day was great fun and we plan to meet in 5 years time to celebrate 50 years. By then I think we will all have decided to stop working. The day was a great success and the food was delicious and there was plenty of wine. Thank goodness for the London underground which meant I didn't have to drive so I could enjoy a drink.

Lyndsey

Monday, 2 October 2017

Working on those WIP's

bag lady linky partyNo matter how hard I try there always seems to be a lot of WIP's lurking around the house. When I say lurking I really do mean they lurk.  The dictionary says;


lurk
verb
gerund or present participle: lurking
be or remain hidden so as to wait in ambush for someone or something.

This is exactly what my WIP's do. Last evening John was putting some laundry away in the airing cupboard when he pulled out a plastic bag with fabric in it and asked 'what's this doing here?' I'd put it on the top shelf out of the way as I had nowhere else to put it.  My WIP's end up lurking around the house because I have no dedicated sewing area or storage area. This problem was in the process of being resolved back in April, when unexpectedly my youngest daughter moved home and my sewing room / guest room plan had to be dropped for the time being. Don't get me wrong I love having her at home as she is great company and I'm happy to forgo the sewing room but keeping track of my projects is very difficult at times as they are scattered around the house, in different cupboards, where ever there is room for them. The bag John had found contained some fleece fabric and several small quilt tops for prem babies, plus some needing borders added, that the Brownies had made last term. I had meant to stitch the fleece backing to the tops so we could give them to the local special care baby unit this term. So first I added borders to those that needed them.


I had this fabulous stripy fabric that made a perfect  border.



When I started cutting the fleece fabric I found I only had enough for 4 mini quilts. I'll have to buy some more this week. I'm not working on Wednesday so hopefully I'll get to attach the backing then.

Earlier this year when I was going through my wardrobe I discovered this skirt crushed right at the back. The skirt was a present a few years ago and I have only worn it a few times. The main problem is that it is too long for my taste.



The skirt has a front zip and side pockets but it is a dull colour.


Having hung at the back of the wardrobe for ages it is full of creases but when freshly ironed it looks nice and crisp. My plan is to cut off several inches from the length so that it sits just above the knee and then to dye it. I currently have some black and some bright green dye either of which would do the job nicely but I might go for a totally different colour. So having measured for the length I wanted I cut the excess fabric off and pinned and then stitched the new hem. I machine stitched the hem to match the other top stitching on the skirt. Now all I have to do is dye the skirt.

On the hand stitching front I haven't made any progress since early last week so Mathilda is unfinished this month.



I can now finish stitching her coat as I've finally found the blue thread I was using. October is month 10 of the year and the bag lady for October is Abigail. I'm looking forward to making a start on stitching her. 



Today when I got in from work I had my sewing box waiting for me. I love receiving this every month. The 5 fat quarters are by Lewis and Irene. They are so cute, I particularly like the leaf fabric and the hedgehog fabric.



There is a very cute pattern to make place mats in this months box. I have some wadding off cuts which are the perfect size for the mats. Before I start that I must finish one of my other projects. I promised myself I wouldn't start anything new until I do. The good news is that Lucy handed in her Master's dissertation this evening so I can now set up my sewing machine on the dinning table without worrying that I'm getting in her way. 

I'm linking this post with Barbara at Cat Patches for the  bag lady link party  Tomorrow I'll tell you about my set reunion from starting my nurse training a long time ago and my discovery of another 'lurking' WIP

Lyndsey

Monday, 25 September 2017

A little of this and that

I keep hearing stories that the UK is supposed to have an Indian summer but I'm starting to think it's just that..a story. When I headed out of town this morning it was grey, very cool and raining. It looked and felt more like a winters day than late September. It was a little better on the way back home but not enough to get me excited.  I love trying to drag out summer for as long as possible but I also like to be warm so I hunted out my thinner jumpers and my sweatshirts in anticipation of cooler days. In the cooler days of autumn, particularly when driving I'd rather wear a jumper than turn the car heating up. Back in the spring as the weather was warming up I went through my wardrobe and got rid of a lot of skirts and tops that had been around a very long time. I told myself this would galvanise me into making some clothes over the summer in preparation for the winter. Well that didn't happen but I did start a green jacket. 




The jacket was made to the point where the lining needed to be added and since then it has sat around hoping eventually to be finished. When I bought the main fabric I didn't purchase the lining fabric and it was a while before I got to the shop. However the lining and the buttons were bought quite a time back but still the project hasn't moved forward so today I hunted out the lining and got it cut out. It didn't take long as there were only 4 pattern pieces. I couldn't go any further with that as Lucy was back at the dinning table working on her dissertation. She's in work on Wednesday and I'm on a day off so I'll stitch the lining together then.

At the weekend I made apple chutney and I forgot to show you the completed jars. It made about 4 pounds of chutney. There were two small jars but Richard has already given one to a friend. The chutney is perfect with pork and I love it on sandwiches with cheese.



It wasn't until I took the photo that I realised I hadn't wiped the drips off the one jar properly. The outside of the jar is now sticky free. As well as our two miniature apple trees we have a crab apple tree. John picked a lot of the apples yesterday and the plan is to make crab apple jelly. I've never made Crab apple jelly or any type of jelly preserves before and I'm not sure I've tasted it either. This will be an interesting experiment.

I sat and had a little nap with Scamp once I'd cut out the lining as last night was rather disturbed. When I lived in a more rural area of England I very rarely saw any foxes but here in London you often see them. They are right scavengers and argue amongst themselves quite loudly when trying to get scraps out of the bins. Last night they succeeded in getting into one of the rubbish bin across the road and made a huge mess and a lot of noise whilst they did it. The foxes woke up Picasso and Scamp who woke me and John up. I hate having a disturbed nights sleep, it leaves you feeling very dull the next day.

After my nap, I decided to work on Mathilda. I plan on finishing her handbag, stick and her hand this evening. I'm working again tomorrow and it will be a long day so I probably won't feel much like stitching tomorrow evening. Still haven't found the blue thread to finish her coat but I've got all the other threads I need.



It's also time I did some stitching on my Christmas tree cross stitch but I need to finish Mathilda first.

Lyndsey

Sunday, 24 September 2017

A fun evening

Yesterday evening was the annual harvest supper and barn dance at our local church. It's always a fun event and a chance to catch up with folks that we don't see very often. I remembered to take my camera with me which was great until I tried to use it. The little message on the screen told me I had forgotten to put the memory card back in when I downloaded the last lot of photos. Grrr it's annoying that my memory is still letting me down but thanks to the wonders of my smart phone i was able to capture the occasion

When we arrived there was a dance about to begin and it all looked peaceful as everyone listened and walked through the dance. 



Once the music started and the dance was underway total chaos ensued as people got their left and their right mixed up and forgot all the instructions. The caller kept on calling out what to do but it became a do your own moves dance.



The important bit was that no one got annoyed and we all spent the evening laughing, so much so that as we walked home at the end of the evening I commented how much my sides hurt from all the laughter.

The hall is part of the church which is a very large Victorian building. Many years back the south aisle was turned into a hall with stage. During weekdays it's used by a nursery and in the evening and weekends provides the venue for social functions and meetings.If I'd remembered to turn and take a photo behind me you would have seen the 'bar' where those of us who had just arrived were enjoying a drink before joining in with the next dance.

The supper was very tasty with chicken curry, vegetable chilli or lasagna. I think most of us opted for a little of everything. There was also a great variety of desserts to chose from. I would have taken a photo to show you but we were all too busy eating and chatting to think of it.

Today was the Harvest service in the church and I loved the floral arrangement. perfect for harvest and Autumn. It looks very simple but very effective.


Walking to the common I spotted a couple of trees with lovely autumnal coloured leaves.



Most of the trees are still sporting green leaves or the leaves have just turned brown, curled up and dropped off. I'm reliably informed this is because there wasn't a lot of rain earlier in the summer and back in the spring. For the leaves to give the glorious autumn colours the trees need a good intake of water early in the growing season.

On the common there are several clumps of these pretty Neapolitan Cyclamen. They aren't wild so have either escaped from a local garden or more likely been planted here by a local resident.


You can see what I meant by the leaves just turning straight to brown. Last weekend the tree above this clump was covered in green leaves and now its branches have some green leaves but the rest have turned brown and dropped off.

Today being Sunday it's time for some hand stitching. I did a little earlier today but this evening I shall enjoy some more stitching and I'm hoping to find something fun to watch on TV whilst I do it. Currently there are a lot of repeats being shown prior to the new season of shows starting in October. I'm not adverse to repeats but get a little cranky when they show the same thing every other week.  Anyway here's what I stitched earlier today on Mathilda. 


I must hunt out the blue thread I was using for her coat. I put it somewhere and now can't find it. I think Scamp may have hidden it as he gets grumpy when I'm hand stitching. He likes to sit on my lap in an evening and he's perfectly happy with me stitching so long as the fabric doesn't touch him. If it does he gets up and turns round which means i have to stop stitching whilst he resettles himself. If it happens a few times he jumps down and finds somewhere to curl up very small and behaves as if he's been told off.


Although it's Sunday, a day for slow stitching I may get my machine out. Lucy has commandeered the dinning table for work on her Masters dissertation but she has finished what she wanted to get done today and gone out to meet up with friends so I should be able to get some sewing in. She's in the final stages of finalising everything and proof reading as it is due in on the 2nd October. After that I can have the table back for sewing but next week I want to give her space to finish her work.

This weekend was the first weekend of ignoring work and getting on with family life. I'm pleased to say I haven't opened my work bag or my work emails. I did spend a couple of minutes considering my travel choices for tomorrow as I am going to a meetings at one of the hospital Trusts that we provide training for, but that was for my own comfort and peace of mind. You can't leave your travel arrangements until the last minute.

I'm linking this post with Kathy of Kathy's Quilts for her Slow Sunday Stitching link up. Pop over and see what everyone's been up to this week.

Lyndsey

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Work gets in the way of fun

I had a lot of fun during my two weeks sick leave following surgery. I had minimal pain and nothing that paracetamol wouldn't deal with and I had some strange altered sensations due to nerves being damaged or cut but other than that I felt very well and was able to enjoy my time at home. Before you all start telling me I should have rested let me assure you I did. I have very little difficulties with sleeping at night except when I don't get enough exercise and I was able to go out for a walk every day. I took time out to read and watch TV and also to enjoy some sewing time. Projects started to move forward and I finished my Mariners compass top. Because I am so well I decided to go back to work not because I can't do without work but because I have new groups of students starting the course in the week beginning 3rd October and I need to make sure all the preparations are complete. Explaining to someone else what you want done is more time consuming than doing it yourself and certainly more tiring so I went back to work. I'm slowly getting everything finalised for my new groups and my current groups are very happy I was only missing for a short time. However it is surprising how quickly you get into a routine at home and therefore how much you can achieve. I allowed myself time each day for piecing blocks and some time for hand sewing. Last week I missed sitting in our living room with Scamp on my lap hand sewing. Our room faces south so on sunny days it is filled with light and just makes you feel very happy. I will get back to that happy place again as I sort out some urgent jobs which includes marking. The marking came in on 1st September, whilst I was off sick but it was waiting for me on my return so that took priority over everything. Once these urgent jobs are sorted I have a plan.

My plan is very straight forward. Once the marking is done for this round weekends become a private time filled with me and John plus our family when they want to join us. This was always our rule years ago when the children were small but once they were grown up we didn't always stick to it but from now on only major or catastrophic work emergencies will sway me from my plan. This gives us time for going away, for walking, theatres, exhibitions, cosy dinners and our hobbies. Work has seriously got in the way of my hobbies for long enough and it is going to stop. I don't mind doing some work on a weekday evening since as a teacher at any level it is difficult to fit everything into a working day. However even work in an evening is going to have a cut off time so I can chill out before bedtime.

Today, Saturday is the first day of my plan. The two weeks I've been back at work have been hectic but I'm more or less organised. In order to relax during the evenings I've been doing a little hand stitching. I love hand stitching and have a range of projects on the go but mainly over the last two weeks I've been working on Mathilda, one of the bag ladies. I made a start on her last week and here's where I left her.



I've been busy and tired so some days there has been no stitching and on others only a few stitches have been added but I'm pleased with how Mathilda is progressing.


In the garden we have two miniature apple trees and this year we have had a good crop of apples from them. One of the trees is a cox's Orange Pippin variety and the other is a Russet. The crop was so good that I needed to use up some of the apples and so today I made apple chutney. First I needed to peel, core and dice the apples.


That was soon done and then it was onto the onions, all 1.4 Kg of them 


By the time I'd peeled them my eyes were streaming and so I pulled my trusty food processor from the cupboard. No chopping onions for me, the peeled onions were cut into smaller chunks and had soon been turned into small chopped pieces. Using the processor for this job is so worth it even though it means I have to wash the blade. I'm always pleased if I manage this job without incident.


It was then a quick job to add the sultanas, demerara sugar, lemon juice and malt vinegar before putting it on the hob and bringing it to the boil. Whilst I'm writing this it is simmering nicely and will be finished in the not too distant future.

Whilst stirring the chutney I was gazing fondly at my kitchen tiles which I just love because they look like mini quilts. This is the wall behind my cooker.



I had hoped to go to my local fabric shop today as I need some fabric for a border so I can get a top finished but I'm not sure I'll have time and I think I may add another row of blocks to increase the size. I'm also not sure if I love it enough to finish it up at the moment so it may just be folded back up and put away in the cupboard. The top was made using scraps for the rainbow Scrap challenge in either 2015 or 2016 The hexagons are appliqued onto the background fabric.


This evening we're going to a harvest supper and barn dance. This is an annual fund raising event and we usually go. The food is always excellent, there's wine, beer and soft drinks and of course lots of dancing. We're going to walk to the venue so I hope the rain holds off. I'll tell you about it tomorrow and hopefully I'll remember to take my camera with me this year.

Lucy is sitting at the dining table working on her dissertation for her Masters. It's due in on the 2nd October and she is looking forward to catching up on her sleep once she's finished it. It's never easy when you're working and studying at the same time. It does mean of course that I can't get my sewing machine out at the moment so the weekend will see more hand stitching..

I think my chutney has reached the point of being ready to bottle so I'd better go and sort that out. I can't wait to taste the finished product.

Lyndsey