Quick make

Something I’ve been meaning to get around to since we had our orangery built 2 (2? really?) years ago.

A cube foot cushion. Nice and easy: six equal sized squares of fabric, stuffed with old duvets. I wanted to use this fabric, that I’ve had in my stash for ages, for the orangery, to link with the garden outside. And its also a good strong fabric, ideal for resting feet on.


Two snapshots – follow-up

I was inspired by the sepia toned photo of the windmill that I posted the other day:

I thought I would try out a different technique than I usually use in my paintings, and created this:

My paintings, much like my pencil drawings, tend to be quite exacting and detailed, so I thought I’d try something a bit more spontaneous. I quite like the limited colour pallette as well.

Two snapshots – Historic Gransden

Five and a half centuries old, the flint walls of this ancient building still stand strong. When the church was built, America still hadn’t been discovered by Europeans; Richard, the last English king to die in battle, at Bosworth, was still a child; and the great fire of London was still two hundred years in the future.

The tower is one hundred years older, and would have stood proudly above a medieval country where the black death had recently ended; the King of England reigned over land in France, but not in Scotland or Wales; and about twenty years before Geoffrey Chaucer writes the Cantebury Tales – imagine the language spoken by the craftsmen as they were building it.

The post mill is waiting for the timber to cure for its new sails.
This is a modern photo taken using a sepia tint.

Gransden mill claims to be the oldest post mill in England, built in 1612, a few years after the gunpowder plot had been quashed; just a year after the King James Bible had been published; and Oliver Cromwell was still a boy at Huntingdon Grammar School.

Tales From the Tower: January 2019

The sky is clear tonight, not even wisps of cloud reflecting the glare from street lights, the moon barely a sliver. The three stars of Orion’s belt sit just above the horizon behind us as we enter through the gate on the East side of the churchyard.

The building looms ahead of us, a dark shadow against the star-lit sky. We enter in at the old vestry door, the children running ahead, turning on lights – by the kitchen, and in the pulpit. The rest of the church waits in darkness.

The choir finished practising a few weeks ago, we have the church to ourselves.

For the first half hour of the practice we concentrate on the learners. We have three at the moment, all at different levels.

Dan is learning to ring a bell up. It takes a little more strength and stamina to pull the bell hard enough, to swing it higher and higher until the mouth of the bell faces upward. He’s old enough now to learn this, a slight variation on our normal ringing style, requiring a slightly different skill.

Mum is teaching him today, standing with him, talking him through it, catching the fluffy sally when necessary.

When Heather rings she stands on two boxes – each about 18 inches on each side and four inches tall. It means she can still hold the end of the rope when the bell has pulled the sally up to the ceiling, and still keep her feet on the floor. (The only bellringers who swing in the air are cartoon monks on Christmas cards.)

She is still learning the different strokes separately. Backstroke is learnt first – holding onto the tailend as the rope goes up, then pulling back down at the right time and speed. The teacher does the rest – pulling the sally at handstoke and then catching it again when it comes back down. Teacher and learner then swap over and the learner now has to pull the sally, learning when to let go, and the more challenging skill of timing the catch just right.

Jan, our adult learner, has been ringing for about five months. She can ring a bell on her own now without any help. The next milestone is to ring with other people – just rounds to begin with, the bells sounding in order down the scale.

Although none of the bells will be swapping position, she still needs to learn how to adjust her speed, so she can ring at the same time as everyone else. So she practices ringing faster and slower – adjusting where to hold the tailend, and when to catch the sally.

As we near eight o’clock the other ringers start to arrive, and although the rest of us don’t need to practice how to ring a bell, and the action has become instinctive to us, we are still learning. We learn new ‘tunes’, called methods, or we learn how to make our striking more even sounding. We learn to conduct – how to call methods and how to put people right. And if we want we can learn how to teach, whether its teaching a raw beginner how to ring a bell, or explaining to a fellow ringer how to ring a new method.

The moon is too small

So, the other day while I was walking the dog, I decided it was time to take the camera out with me again. I was mainly experimenting with taking black and white photos when I walked into the Boroughs woods and saw a shot I just had to take:

I was standing in just the right place, as when I went further into the clearing the moon dipped below the treeline, or was not framed as nicely in the trees.

So, I was happy with the view, but the moon wasn’t as outstanding in the photo as I hoped. I tried zooming in:

This is a good photo if you need something with a lot of blank space. I like the wallpaper on my phone to be not too cluttered so I can make out the icons easily, so this would do for that. I was still not happy though, so I went back into colour:

I zoomed out again as I prefered that framing, and the moon is more distinguishable in the colour photo. I also tried a closer zoom:

And closer still:

Although this shows the moon clearly, it loses the context of the trees framing the picture.

I haven’t really decided which picture I like the best, I suppose it depends on what it is going to be used for.

I think, as an experiment, the results are: The moon is too small to take really good pictures of it – our brains interpret the real life view differently than they do a photo of the same view.

Ratby Woods

The three Ratby woods – Martinshaw, Pear Tree and Boroughs woods – a brief journey in black and white photographs.

The path through the wood ends with a wooden fence. Sleepers rest on the ground to stop vehicles entering. A middle-aged oak tree stands guard. Does anyone use the metal gate?

The new plantation. Rank upon rank of smooth-barked trees stand at attention, like baby-faced recruits.

A fingerpost sign, rare in these parts. Aged with lichen.

Tortured trees in the ancient strip of woodland. Don’t venture here in the fog.

Empty branches reaching for the sky. Veins and arteries in the landscape.

Textiles superstar

Dan enjoyed his textiles rotation last term at school. He was really proud of his work, and had to show me as soon as he brought it home.

They made cushion covers, dyeing some of the fabric using batik and tie-dye, patchworking fabric together, and adding applique.

Dan even used a different stitch for the highlighting on the back:

As well as making a superb piece of work, he also came home at the end of term with a certificate for ADT Star of the Rotation, for an “excellent product, which was made independently to a high standard”.

I’m dreaming . . .

After a few dreary days of steel skies and stair-rod rain, today the sun has come out. Mark has informed me its a nice day out there, having just come back from walking the dog. Meanwhile, I have just finished icing the christmas cake.

A change from my usual green and red theme for christmas cakes, I’ve gone blue and white with wishful thinking snowflakes.

I was ahead of myself this year, making the cake itself back in November. It has been well fed with brandy in the meantime, so should be lovely and moist, even if having too big a slice might put you over the drink-drive limit!

Working Title: Interdimensional Laundry

This is the first chapter/segment of a fanfiction work-in-progress. Dan and I have been catching up on the new series of Doctor Who, including (thanks iPlayer) watching the last season of the twelfth doctor. I love Peter Capaldi’s outfit, and when the Doctor gave Bill directions to the wardrobe in the TARDIS it suddenly crossed my mind – so who does the laundry in the TARDIS?


Susan wasn’t a fan of early 21st century earth. Yes, they’d got rid of the smog and the global temperatures hadn’t risen too high yet, and the people were nice enough. She liked their level of technology too – enough to make life easier but not too much that one was insulated from reality.

The problem came about after they’d been there a little over a month. In between adventures in the TARDIS, Susan had settled in nicely at the local school.

That, she decided, had been the problem.

She had settled, and let slip too much about her unusual lifestyle.

Not the alien encounters, adventures and time travel (she hadn’t told anyone about that). Social services had been called when her form tutor had found out that Susan spent most evenings tidying up after her grandfather and cooking his meals, before getting on with her homework. Of course Susan couldn’t say that her homework took only a fraction of the time it took her peers, and if she was lucky they would take a trip to see some historical sights in real time – far more interesting than just reading about them in a book.

Anyway,  a very kind sounding lady wanted to visit them at home, to ‘assess’ if she qualified as a young carer.

She supposed that having an understanding teacher and a week’s holiday in Clapton might very well be desirable for an ordinary teenager stuck at home looking after an ageing grandparent, but it hardly applied to their situation.

The Doctor couldn’t quite understand how having a dutiful granddaughter was an anomaly, blamed the rise ofthe internet and the invention of the portable phone, and promptly parked the TARDIS in the 1960s where a police call box stood out a lot less.

She quite liked the 60s. The music was better.

Also, no-one paid much attention to a granddaughter who had to be home in time to cook dinner.

For the laundry though, she always got grandfather to drop her off in 1970s Las Vegas. There was a busy laundromat that seemed to be used by the whole town and his brother, and no-one blinked an eye at the eclectic selection of clothes she put through the machines.

The Doctor asked her once why she wanted to use this particular shop. Susan told him she was friends with Jolene who ran the place, and it was nice to catch up with her every now and again. Which was true.

What she didn’t mention was that the quarters changed hands so quickly in this town that no-one noticed if the 1920s coin was freshly minted, or even if the coins they were feeding into the slot machines hadn’t officially been made yet.

More to follow, once I’ve written it! Hopefully one section for each doctor.