Tuesday, July 28, 2009

28 July: A Wednesday walk

We waited for the parcel postman to come round, then we went out for a bit of a walk.

After tea and birthday cake in the cafe, we strolled round the Botanic Garden, ending up in the bird hide.

There weren't many birds about, but eventually some wildlife appeared.

followed shortly by a couple of other creatures -

There was also a lesser spotted woodpecker, which evaded photographic capture.

Monday, July 27, 2009

27 July: End

Ah well, only another 49 weeks to the next Tour de France.

We'll miss the scenery, the heroics, the tactics, the international flavour of the peloton, Phil getting it wrong, Menchev falling off, the spoilt brat sound-bites, and those tedious, repetitive adverts.

I'll miss having something reliable to watch on TV and the knitting time - there have been 6 socks and part of a jersey made, of which a whole sleeve was done over the weekend.

On the other hand, perhaps we'll get out a bit in the evenings - on the bikes?

Friday, July 24, 2009

24 July: Six single socks

Remember that yarn dyed earlier in the month? It's now socks.

As well as the 4 skeins dyed and featured on 2 July, there's the lime green yarn from the Yarn Yard (at Woolfest), and some red/brown yarn, which was previously yellow and green, but was overdyed with pinky red.

It's wonderful how much knitting can be done while watching Le Tour.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

22 July: 'Twas on a Monday morning

The Flanders and Swann song The Gasman Cometh has been running through my head.

At the weekend we realised that something (perhaps the heavy recent rain, combined with sunshine and age) had caused our plastic rainwater butt to spring a leak (along the line where it came out of the mould). So on Sunday we went to buy a new one. The most serviceable-looking one was a bit smaller in diameter than the original, but the same height. The height is important, because the inlet to the butt must be on a level with the take-off on the down-pipe, or it will either not fill the butt, or over-fill it.

Back home, we discovered that the new butt would not sit level on the stand of the old one.

So on Monday morning we went to buy a new stand for the new water butt.

This stand is quite a bit (4 inches) shorter than the old stand, and therefore the inlet was now about 4 inches lower than the down-pipe take-off.

There was a spare paving slab, which brought it up about an inch, and, importantly, still had space for the watering can to stand under the tap. Fortunately, we had some bricks stacked up in the garage. These boosted the whole affair to almost the right level. It looked as if we'd got it set up satisfactorily.

We put some water into it with the hose to check that the tap was water-tight, and it seemed OK. Looked like a success.

Today DH checked, and reported that it was full to the top (it rained a lot again yesterday). What he didn't see, and what I spotted when I looked at it this afternoon, was that it was leaking gently from both the inlet and the tap!

So a whole water-butt-ful has been emptied onto the already sodden garden, and we have dismantled the whole thing and fixed supposedly waterproof tape round the relevant bits. We put some water into it with the hose to check that the tap was water-tight, and it seemed OK.

I'll check it in the morning - it's bound to rain overnight.

At least we haven't painted over the gas tap .....

Saturday, July 18, 2009

18 July: Summer Saturday

It's been raining. And when it rains the rivers get full. We took a stroll down to the River Wear this afternoon - it had clearly gone down about 5 feet from its highest point.

The plants on the bank have all been flattened and pushed in the direction of the flow.

Several tree branches swept past us; one large piece of tree had got caught on one of the bridge girders -

The farm by the bridge was flooded. The house seemed to be OK, but the tractor in the yard was in a foot or so of water, and some children were going up and down past it in a rubber dinghy. From further up the hill we could see that the farmyard and fields were well under water.

Oddly, the river banks were above the water, separating the flooded fields from the rushing and swirling river.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

15 July: Anniversary

70 years ago today my parents were married in London.

Mum wore gold satin (I have the plaited band from her head-dress); Dad's wedding suit was in his wardrobe for many years.

It's strange to think of them as young, indeed younger than my own children are now, and their parents then were younger than I am now.

No internet, no mobile phones, no television, no digital cameras, or even colour photographs then. Dad didn't have a car until later, though he and Mum already had a tandem. No grandparent ever drove a car, as far as I know.

That time is now history. And of course one day my grandchildren will look back on today as quaint, if not actually olden times.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

11 July: That TdF effect

It happens every July - the number of bikes out and about shoots up. We added to the rush this morning, with a trip to the Botanic Garden for coffee.

The rest of the town seemed to be at the Big Meeting, so it was quiet. There was no flapjack available, so my snack was a piece of Mrs POs Traditional Country Caramel Shortbread; not quite sure if I was pleased or disappointed at the lack of currants and cherries in the shortbread...

We returned the pretty way, so that my asthma attack was not at Croxdale but on Page Bank. No polka dots for me - I walked up the steep bit.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

8 July: Knitting - and weaving

The green merino/silk zigzag top is now finished -

A bit snug, but I'm pleased with it. Then the new loom has been in action -

That was the first experiment, with some multi-coloured sock yarn and some odds and ends of handspun. The black was too lumpy, and the blue was too loosely plied - but it's all good for learning. If it all went smoothly, there'd be no progress.

The next bit was trying harder, and it turned out better.

This is made all from handspun - Jacob (the grey), Wensleydale (the dark brown), and BFL (the white). I don't really like the fringed ends, so they may get cut off and hems sewn; or it might be transformed into a bag.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

5 July: Staindrop

In aid of funds for the Parish Church, Staindrop residents had an "open garden" day today, when 20 gardens in the village were open to the public.

And they were lovely - some quite small but perfectly formed, several much larger than expected, all very different, even though there were a number of plants which featured in most of the borders.

The justifiably proud garden owners were very friendly, and willing to talk about their work - one kind lady even looked up her records for us to identify a plant in her border which is the twin of one we bought as an unlabelled stray 2 or 3 years ago (centaurea macrocephala).

Tea and a most delicious array of sandwiches, scones, sausage rolls and cakes were available in the Scarth Hall, where the tables had proper tablecloths and flowers too.

It seemed intrusive to take photos of the gardens, so we didn't. There was, however, also a scarecrow competition, so we felt they were fair game.

Rapunzel was overlooking the main street -

And outside the bistro was this chap, reminding us that Le Tour started yesterday -

But no maillot jaune for him, perhaps.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

2 July: Embryo socks

Inspired by the skein of lime green sock yarn bought from Natalie (the Yarn Yard) at Woolfest, I had a dyeing session yesterday - just the day for steaming yarn on the stove for an hour or so!

While that was steaming, I sat in the shade, with the scent of the philadelphus filling the garden -

Today the skeins of yarn are dry, and I'm very pleased with the results -

It's the first time the turquoise dye has been really successful, and it's also the first time I've dunked the yarn into the jug of dye, rather than pouring the dye over the yarn.

Now to see how it looks wound into balls, then how it looks knitted up. There may be a delay with this, as there are several projects I want to start on, and the last 2 aren't yet finished, so don't hold your breath!