Friday, 31 July 2015

Abundance as opposed to a bun dance

Followers of the "old way" will already be aware that today is
Lammas and that corn dollie season has begun in ernest.

Traditional corn dollie

It's the day on which to celebrate the first fruits of the harvest
by baking loaves made with the freshly milled flour from
this year's crop.  If you're gluten free like me you'll just have to

Makes your back ache just looking at it.

The wheel of life turns on, the sun has ripened the grain,
seeds must be set aside for next year's planting and then it's
all down hill again until Yule (147 shopping days to go)>

Meadowsweet, I can smell it from here.

Today's colours are golds and oranges, as well as red to
celebrate the Goddess as mother.  Hazel, gorse and sage are
hot to trot and don't forget the meadowsweet, the bride of the meadow,
whatever you do with it's heavy, almost sickly-sweet
migraine inducing perfume.

There were some more interesting pictures but they
really were very rude indeed!

Lammas also embraces the festival of Lugh the Celtic Sun King and
Lord of Light.  So set fire to something, dance around in
the rudie nudie (any excuse eh Deb), go pick your beans because
with the cutting of the first corn the old god, the green man,
the essence of life, John Barleycorn - call him what you will -
surrenders his life to the scythe.  It's a story as old a time
itself, of death and rebirth so that the cycle can begin again anew with the
coming of the spring.

He's definately not a "leg" man.

Now out with your besoms (no Alice dear, those are your bosoms)
and sweep after me:

By one, two, three and four
Sweep Lammas gifts to my door.
May abundance be a constant friend
By my hearth till winter's end.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Alone no more ......

No, I haven't found myself a man nor a dog so
please don't get over excited and start frothing at
the mouth.

Come round the other side, you can see them better
from there.

What I have got is FISH!
Three jolly, fat fish to be precise who are now currently
enjoying the pool facilities here at the lock-up.
They are very ordinary common or garden creatures
not blessed with exotic tails or fabulous coloured
scales but they will do me very nicely nonetheless.

One is white and the other two are orange and
all three are currently lacking names so please,
put on your naming caps and see what you can
come up with.

There they are, under the pond soldier.

I'm off to the shops now to buy some fish food,
a heron gun and a couple of no-fishing signs
for good measure.  Nobody messes with my 
lurcher fish!

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Ranworth St Helen

Norfolk, the county where I now live, has the greatest
concentration of mediaeval churches anywhere in
the world - 650 of the original 900 remain and are the
spiritual and visual focus of the landscape.

At first glance the rood screen doesn't seem very exciting
but come a little closer and you'll see what I mean.

These churches contain many priceless mediaeval works
of art and craftmanship which are part of our heritage
and are visited by thousands of people every year
from all corners of the globe and beyond?

Some of the good ladies of the Parish have been
making kneelers again I see.  Shame they all had to
share the same pattern.

Today I was one of them when I went to see Ranworth's
celebrated rood screen which is only a ten minute
drive from the Lock-Up.

See all the wonderful detail on this guy's frock when you get up close.

The structure and design of the screen are elaborate
and it's decoration is arguably the finest 15th century example
you're likely to find for many a long mile.

I had to take this twice, St Barbara just wouldn't keep
her feather still.

There's saints galore who will protect you from apocalyptic catastrophe,
childbirth and possibly even musical instruments if I read the symbolism
correctly; a breast-feeding Virgin Mary, 
dragons with one or several heads, Archbishops and
enough angels to fill all the pews should the
congregation suddenly dwindle as in times of pestilence
and plague.  

That's one cool dragon.

And today there was even a serial sinner (me) to be found on her hands
and knees in front of the magnificent screen much to the alarm
of a couple of tourists from Germany who happened to rock up
about five minutes after me.  Too late to seek forgiveness for
all my many sins but not too late to take some close up photo's
of all the elaborate decoration on the panels to give inspiration
for future designs.

Must be St Peter - he was a fisherman.

All in all a good afternoon out if you're into that sort of thing
and so wonderfully calm and cool on a hot summer's afternoon
in good old Norfolk.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015


I think a travel feature might be in order as last week I popped
down to Kent, Rochester to be precise, with my cousin (twice removed
and usually from bars at closing time) Jan.  

What it says on the sign.

Briefly, what Jan
doesn't know about the latest high-tech sewing machines isn't worth
knowing and as she happened to be on a teaching trip I just
tagged along for the ride.

Inside the cathedral which is singularly unattractive.

We spent what can best be described as an "interesting" night at
Queensborough on the Isle of Sheppey before continuing on to
Rochester, one of the Medway towns, the following day.

High Street, Rochester - not exactly bustling!

If I'm perfectly honest I don't really know what to think about
Rochester.  It boasts the second oldest cathedral in Britain,
has some great architecture and a long naval history but sadly
it failed to grab me by the throat and show me a good time.
Unlike the Rastafarian I met on a park bench whilst eating my
lunch who wanted nothing more than to share his spliff
and converse for a while.

They had two samplers in their museum.
I wonder if anyone ever told Sarah she had her
"S" the wrong way round?

Rochester does however have not one but  two delightful sewing outlets which
is becoming increasingly rare in this age of the internet when
everything is available online and little haberdashers are going
to the wall in their droves.  Makes them sound a bit like lemmings
although they don't actually jump but simply shut their doors
for one last time.

All very quaint but where are the punters?

CCB Sewing is a real Alladin's cave full of fabrics, threads and
wool although sadly no cross stitch which seems to be falling
out of favour in the UK.  Shame on you all, start
stitching immediately.  It's one of those joyful family-run
shops and they certainly go the extra mile for their clients
offering free tuition, monthly clubs and guest speakers.

A good place for quilters.

Hometown is the domain of Marion Haslam and stocks everything
a quilter's heart could desire just there at your fingertips
as well as gifts, buttons, bows, baubles, bangles and beads.
You get the idea, I left her with the idea of cross stitch!
Well fair exchange is no robbery pet as Granny H. would say.
That woman certainly knew how to irritate.
(Granny H. not Marion Haslam I hasten to add).
Sorry no apparent website just an email address:

Sadly it wouldn't go in the car.

I'm still undecided what to make of Rochester so
you'll just have to go see for yourselves but watch out
for Rasta's if you decide to dine al fresco!

Sunday, 19 July 2015

The crossing of paths

From time to time along life's way our paths will cross for
one brief, beautiful moment with a truly inspirational person.

Megan Kerr
It happened to me earlier this week in the back room of a
sewing machine shop down in Kent when I met 18 year old
Megan Kerr putting the final touches to her bright red prom dress.

I spent a couple of hours in her company and as she struggled
to turn the belt for her dress inside out before attaching a
diamante trim she told me something of her life.
Believe me it was a very humbling experience indeed.

Please spare a couple of minutes to follow the link below
as Megan tells her tale far more eloquently than I could ever
hope to do:

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Your old green wellies .....

Down amongst the cabbages
Through the sunflowers tall
Can you see those courgettes
Growing by the wall?
Runner beans, French beans
Bright red flowers a-quiver.
Already there's some tasty pods.
Let's have them for our dinner.

Just beside the old blue shed
Things are growing fast.
Lettuces are looking good,
Currants ripe at last.
Red ones, white ones,
Some are fat and black.
Pick them in the evening cool.
No sun to burn your back.

Lurking in the greenhouse
It's windows open wide
Are proud tomatoes all trussed up,
A row on either side.
Cherry ones, merry ones,
Full of pips and pulp.
Stick a ripe one in your mouth,
Eat it in one gulp.

Come and join our merry band,
Bring your fork and spade.
Time to put some leeks in
The job can't be delayed.
Come and taste the great outdoors
Get back to your roots.
But first make sure
That you can find
Your old green wellie boots!

Sunday, 12 July 2015

All coming along nicely ......

Fuschias are lovelly
The roses ain't bad.
They're big, and they're blousie and smell.
Nasturtiums are naughty,
Hydrangeas are haughty
I like a good mix - can't you tell?


Geraniums glow,
Sweet peas a bit slow,
They don't want to climb up their strings.
Have a look at my lupins,
I think one is drooping.
What's that dude called that looks like a bell?

Smelly, wet rose

My scabious scowl,
Quick pass me a trowel
I can see a big weed that I've missed.
Clematis climb quickly,
My hops feel quite prickly
And the peonies all look quite pissed.

Pissed peonie

I love my wee garden
So begging your pardon
I could write verses all of the time.
There's so many wild flowers
That grow in my bower
But sadly not all of them rhyme!

Friday, 10 July 2015

The Cycle of Long Dog

I've got a new Long Dog,
I'll start with the border.
My threads are all ready,
My pages in order.

Go find the scissors,
Turn on the lamp.
Material's ready,
Just tighten the clamp.

I love all the colours,
So bright and so bold.
My needle is threaded
With "Mexican Gold".

Time to get started,
No further delay.
I've done a few stitches
So we're on our way.

How long will it take me
To get to the end?
Sometimes too much stitching
Sends me round the bend.

But then, does it matter?
These motifs are fun
And it will get finished
In the long run.

I've finally got there,
A big sigh of "phew".
The project is over,
Now what shall I do?

Go to my laptop
Tap in the site
Order a download
And get it tonight.

(Back to the top)
I've got a new Long Dog, etc

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Cordon Noir cookery tips

Two tips from the infamous Long Dog cordon noir kitchen 
for you today.

Tip Number One

My they were tart!  This photo doesn't feature all the
others I decided to add for good measure,

When faced with the question "What to do with a glut of
gooseberries?" do not be tempted to add them to your
dish of oven baked salmon along with the capers
and black olives.  

Gooseberry Surprise instantly becomes Gooseberry Fool.
It tastes not only disgusting but is also so sour that it
"draws your arse to your elbow" as my grandfather would
have so charmingly put it, in about two seconds flat.
It somehow sounded more polite in Dutch.

Tip Number Two

A Rhode Island Red I presume.

Don't waste your time playing about with mutant
strawberries when there's far more important things you
should be doing - grow up Julia.

But at least I now know which came first.
It was the eggs.  They just sat quietly on the worktop
in silent admiration as they watched me handcraft
my little strawberry chicken.  Bless.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Picnicing - the new extreme sport!

Are you sitting comfortably - then we'll begin ....

Yesterday evening I went on a one-woman picnic.
But this was to be no ordinary outing as the spot I was heading
for was the middle of a field in South Walsham where a
travelling theatre company, The Pantaloons, were due to
give a performance of Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice.

This was a first for me but I was determined not to let the fact
that I had no one to go with keep me indoors too timid to
venture forth and thus missing out on something I really
wanted to do.

Mr Darcy/Mr Bennet/Mr Wickham/Mary

There were about three hundred other like minded souls in total
who rocked up some with hampers and tartan rugs whilst
others carried along huge chairs, cool boxes and almost the
entire contents of their local supermarket's sparkling wine aisle.

Elizabeth Bennet

I must admit to feeling rather like the body odour offender in a
deodorant commercial as I sat and ate my supper in rather splendid
isolation whilst playing with my iphone in an attempt to appear
sophisticated and cool.  But once the performance began none of that
mattered as it was lively, funny, well acted and refreshingly
different in it's approach.  It also involved a good deal of audience
participation which thankfully I wasn't singled out for despite the
fact that I felt like a lone sitting duck that was wearing a
flashing, invisible "pick me for humiliation" hat.

Mrs Bennet/MissBingley/Lydia/Anne De Bourgh

When I left the lock-up temperatures were still in the
mid to high twenties so cut offs and a t-shirt seemed adequate
attire.  Thank goodness I'm an experienced outdoor reveller
(Glastonbury, Richmond and Cambridge Festivals in my youth),
because very soon it was cardigan time, followed by fleece jacket
with hood and eventually polar throw and shared bodily warmth
(never fluids, not even medicinal brandy, on a first picnic)
if there was someone nearby who felt like sharing.

Mr Bingley/Mr Collins/Mr Gardiner/Kitty

Only in England could temperatures plummet in such a short space
of time and only us Brits would continue sitting with teeth chattering
in the middle of a wet sea fog which had rolled in from the coast,
at times obscuring the stage, and acting as if nothing untoward had happened.

Jane/Miss Lucas/Mrs Gardiner/Lady Catherine

I finally crept to the lock up a little before midnight, soaked to
the skin, frozen stiff and already looking forward to The Pantaloons
next performance scheduled for the autumn.  All I need to do in
the interim is go on line and order some arctic survival gear and
a male escort to carry it.

Mr Darcy having a swig as the fog starts to creep in.

PS  Mr Darcy was as you might expect.  Try and catch a performance
if you don't mind experiencing hypothermia first hand -