Tuesday, April 29, 2008

29 April: Birds

The first house martin has arrived, and is swooping about checking out all last year's nest sites. It may be finding some insects too, as it's been warm all day.

At Minsmere last week, we saw a swallow - it perched on a signpost conveniently close, so that a person more expert than us was able to tell us the differences between it and a swift, which wouldn't have perched anywhere anyway. The swallow had already built a nest, we were told.

And all week we were captivated by the actions of a blackbird family in the back yard of our holiday cottage; the nest was in a hydrangea petiolaris on the wall, and 3 fledglings were in different stages of learning. One was quite a bit behind the others, and spent most of its time lurking in dead leaves and other debris under the hydrangea and the neighbouring honeysuckle, emerging to shout loudly and open its still-yellow-lined mouth whenever Father Blackbird arrived with a beakful of worms. Luckily there was an area of well-tended allotments close by, which seemed to provide an ample supply of worms.

Oh, and in the woods here and there was a light wash of blue from the earliest bluebells.

Back at home, my Mother's Day lilies are flowering - huge pink blooms on the kitchen window-sill.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

27 April: Holiday!

We've just got back from a lovely week in Suffolk. The weather was mostly kind, and we got out and about every day.

There was an interesting castle at Framlingham -

- with Tudor chimneys purely to impress the neighbours. Inside the walls the buildings were very un-castle-like -

I actually managed to overcome my fear of height combined with open space, and walked all the way round the top of the walls.

A visit to Southwold is always required. This is the pier -

- and it's compulsory to photograph the beach huts -

We went a couple of times to the RSPB reserve at Minsmere, though all the birds avoided my lens. The power station at Sizewell couldn't escape, though.

And on Dunwich Heath I was very lucky to switch the camera onto full zoom and snap this deer before it melted away as its 2 companions had just done -

We visited the Natural Dye Studio, and I was very restrained in my purchases. There may be socks....

We had lots of good walks in wonderful countryside; we browsed round fine old towns, and lunched in pubs mostly called the King's Head.

Amazingly, although we ate every bun, cake, shortbread, and loaf that we could, the scales tell me I've put on precisely 1 pound in the week.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

13 April: Squid and socks*

Recently knitted this little creature -

I also have patterns for 2 octopuses/octopi, and a cuttlefish.

And socks continue to emerge from the TV knitting basket, even though not much TV is being watched -

These are slightly subversive ones for DH. When worn with shoes and long trousers, only the grey bits will show. He wouldn't think of wearing them any other way, of course.

* Not a recipe currently popular?

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

8 April: Not the string bag

Finally finished the felted bag that's been in progress for what seems like ages.

After felting in the washing machine, of course the pattern lost its definition - and all the time and effort that went into drawing up the design, and then working it! (In real it's more blurred than in the photo - a nice reversal of my usual photography.)

Then it took ages thinking how to make a suitable strap, and what sort of closure to do. I'd previously made a similar felted bag, from millspun yarn, for which I wove an inkle strap, and used a braid tie for a closure - and didn't like them; the strap not chunky enough, and the closure inefficient and fiddly.

Eventually I knitted and felted a strap, and sewed in a zip. I made a tag for the zip from a boxwood acorn off a blind I took down from a window in a house 30 or so years ago - the little hoard of odds and ends does come in useful sometimes!

Here's the new bag with the older one -

Friday, April 04, 2008

4 April: Spring is here

Yes, the birds have competition from the builders making plenty of noise at the crack of dawn.

Yes, the surplus crumbs have been shaken out of the keyboard, the dirt on the windows has been noticed, the DM boots have been returned to the wardrobe and the DM sandals brushed off.

Yes, the garden's been checked over, and bare patches of earth have had plants crammed into them. There are primulas, white -

purple -

and traditional -

DH's favourite fritillaries are flowering -

and the hellebores are still providing food for the newly emerging bumble bees -

And the Mother's Day lilies are budding in the freshly painted kitchen -

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

1 April: No joke

Our local council (Sedgef***d Borough) has at long last started a collection scheme for recycling plastic and cardboard, as well as paper, glass and cans. Hooray.

The first collection was today. Everything must be on the kerb by 7 a.m. They collected about 3.15 p.m. By then the wind which whips down off the Pennines was blowing briskly along the street, already merrily scattering the beer cans from one well-filled green box.

As the issued container for plastic and card is made of woven plastic fabric, it seemed probable that it would blow away when empty, the same as the green boxes and the wheelie bins. So when I heard the collecting vehicle outside, I watched in order to dash out and retrieve the various containers before they headed for Hartlepool.

The materials have to be tipped from their tidily packed containers into small bins on the side of the vehicle. This row of bins is then raised into the air and swung over the body of the vehicle, whereupon the carefully washed, sorted, and separated materials are dropped into different compartments - or in this case released into the wind and the wild, accompanied by cries of "Wahay!" from the men who watched as plastic bags, sheets of paper and yogurt pots swirled away up the street.

No doubt we shall be getting an increased demand for council tax to deal with the litter problem.