Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Cut Short

I've finished writing a book review for Leigh Russell's book "Cut Short".

It's the first book review I've written, so I was a bit nervous about starting, but I enjoyed the book so much that it wasn't difficult to find things to say about it.

Monday, 24 August 2009

The contents of the parcel...

We opened the handsewn 'sew cute' parcel from my daughter Natalie, who is in India. Inside there was a really big (98 inches x 48 inches!) printed cotton wrap with really pretty beaded tasselling. I can wear it as a sarong, a wrap or a scarf, or even use it as a table runner. It's so versatile, and I love it.

Here's a close-up...

My son got a hippie style shirt, otherwise known as a kurta or tunic. It's white with a grandad collar and vertical pintucking. Here he is modelling it.

Also in the parcel was a copy of the Times of India for August 16th, 2009. Nat and Nick went with a local artist to help decorate a long wall in Mumbai. I've outlined the paragraph that refers to them in red, and also outlined Nat and Nick in the picture. It sounds like it must have been a lot of fun. Click on the picture to enlarge.

By the way, Banksy is said to be from Bristol, not London as it says in the article. Nat and Nick both know this since they've both lived in Bristol for the past few years, so it's probably a typo. If you're wondering who Banksy is, so are most of the rest of the world because his identity is a big secret. There's a large section about him in Wikipedia - see if you're interested.

While checking him out online, I found this which I think might be worth a visit to Bristol, though there isn't much time left before the exhibition closes.

It was like Christmas or my birthday all over again around here yesterday. Apart from opening the parcel, my son brought me some chocolates (actually, quite a lot of chocolate) from Belgium, and my neighbour gave me a jar of her really delicious home-made marmalade to thank me for looking after Leo.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Leo, a walk, and a parcel

This is Leo.

Leo is my neighbour's daughter's dog. My neighbour is looking after Leo while her daughter and family are on holiday, but yesterday she had to go into London, so I got to look after Leo. In the late morning, I suddenly realised that if we were going to go out while it was dry we'd better get moving. As you can see, Leo had the same idea. I think the eyes say it all.
Yesterday started and ended as a really lovely day. When we set off, the sun was shining and it was nice and warm outside. At this time of year the hedgerows are just dripping with fruits ripe for the picking, and they're just there on the side of the road for anyone to pick. These particular plums are quite delicious, but I don't think they taste much like plums. To me they taste like rhubarb and custard.
The bramble bushes are ripening and some of the blackberries are ready to be picked. I fancy making some sloe gin this year, and I've found a recipe on the internet which had me chuckling, because it starts with "get a bottle of gin and drink half of it...." Apparently you should wait till after the first frost before you pick the sloes. They look like blueberries in the picture.

I tried to get Leo to pose for a picture with this footpath in the background, but he was very uncooperative.

To the side of the path is a field, and it was empty except for this mother piggie and her little piglets. They all seem to be little minimees of their mother.

Next to the ivy leaves, you can see how small Leo really is. He is such an adorable little thing, and probably won't get any bigger. I would have expected him to have a yappy bark, but no! I discovered that Leo has a big-dog bark which is about 10 times as big as he is when a horse and rider had the temerity to cross his path. I think Leo doesn't like horses. He got so cross that I had to pick him up and hold him so that he wouldn't attack the horse. Sometimes big hearts come in small packages.
And talking of packages........

My daughter Natalie (see the link in the margin for Nick and Nats seeing the world) sent me and my son a present from India. This is what it looked like when it arrived (I've blocked out names and addresses for security). It took them absolutely hours to mail their parcels because they had to be wrapped in paper and string, and then in (what looks to me like) muslin and all sewn up. Apparently there are people in the street outside the post office who will provide a sewing up of parcels service for a small consideration.
I thought you might like to see a closeup of the stitching....

I haven't opened it yet. My son, whose name is also on the parcel, is in Belgium at a pop festival and won't be home until tomorrow afternoon. I just couldn't rob him of the pleasure of picking up this wonderful parcel and feeling it and shaking it, and trying to guess what's inside. So I'm waiting. And to be honest, I can hardly bear to wait, because I'm so curious about what's inside the parcel, but I also love the packaging so much I can't bear the thought of cutting through those stitches.

p.s. I almost forgot. On the way home from the walk with Leo I stopped at the Post Office to post a letter, and while I was in there the heavens suddenly opened and the celestial power shower got turned on. Leo and I were both thoroughly soaked! But after we'd been home a while, it all stopped, the sun came out, and it was all lovely after that.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Leighton Buzzard Canal Festival

A few weekends ago, I went to the Leighton Buzzard Canal Festival. I'd never been to this festival before so I tucked my camera and some spending money into my bag, and set off after lunch. The festival had been going on since the morning, and by the time I got there I think it was probably less crowded than it would have been earlier. That didn't mean that there was less to see.

The entire length of the towpath side of the canal as far as the eye could see was lined with narrowboats, and traffic up and down the canal was relatively busy. The festival was being held in a park, and was bordered by a lake and the canal, and a good part of it was set within a wooded area.

One of the first things I saw was this old fire engine. It was beautifully cared for and in good working order. It was quite a warm day, and I got to see the engine in action when the firemen in charge sprayed water in a great arc into the air, which fell as droplets and cooled everyone nearby.

This was my favourite stall, selling canal artwork. There were several stalls selling this kind of artwork, but this one was my favourite and i bought the watering can which is just behind the barrel. I'm hoping that I've outwitted Hooli, (my daughter's dog), who has managed to chew all my previous plastic watering cans to a useless mangled mess. This is made of metal, so should shrug off Hooli's dental attacks.

And there were craft stalls with demonstrations:

The stall next to these llamas was selling their wool, some knitting kits, and hand knitted items. Loved the llamas - just look at that cute little white one.

And then there was the Town Crier who was going around ringing his bell and calling out his message which he'd put into a poem. I caught up with him and asked if he was the genuine Town Crier for Leighton Buzzard, and sure enough he was. He said that the job is a voluntary one, and that he can't devote as much time to it as he'd like to at the moment. He is, however, the official Town Crier, and his uniform is supplied by the Town Council. It was a really splendid uniform, and he was a very nice man who was happy to stop and chat to everyone.

I came across a wood turner next, giving a demonstration of how you only need pedal power and some fresh air to produce a thing of beauty. It was quite amazing to watch him at work.
The broom-maker.....

and the walking stick maker.

And corn dollies - with demonstrations and lessons in how to make them.

And last but not least......
The Morris Dancers
(click to play the video)

It really was a great afternoon out, and it didn't rain at all!