27/05/2014 § 4 Comments
Lynmouth, in North Devon has always been close to my heart. We holidayed there every year when I was a child, from the age of just 9 months old, until I was almost a teenager. I even remember my first trip, in the back seat of our old A30 with my cot on board too! Those were the days before any bridges over the River Severn – we crossed the river on a chain ferry!
I’m brimming with so many happy memories of umpteen holidays there, first with Mum and Dad and my Grandfather too, then later with my friends after I had learned to drive. My best friend Beti and I used to go out riding from the stables at Malmsmead and I’ll never forget the black cob Tarquin carting me back up the river valley scattering tourists as he bolted home! I couldn’t wait to bring my new husband here 30 years ago. We visited when I was expecting our third child, and again the following year when baby Jack was carted around the village in a shopping basket as there was no room to pack the pushchair!
We have visited many times since as I adore this quaint seaside village in a part of Exmoor that is often called Little Switzerland. Last weekend, on a whim, I had an urgent need to return so we took a jolly jaunt to soak up all the charm of the place.
We stayed at the delightful Shelleys Hotel, just by the bridge where the West Lyn meets the East Lyn river. The river course changed the landscape dramatically in 1952 in the devastating floods. Shelleys Hotel survived – as did my uncle and aunt who were staying further up the valley at Watersmeet when the flood hit. The welcome at Shelleys is warm and friendly and we had a charming room overlooking Lynmouth village and the harbour. We’ve stayed in this small luxury hotel before and it’s definitely worth a visit – Richard and Jane are brilliant hosts – breakfasts in the conservatory are amazing! We dined out each evening at Le Bistro, just across the road from the hotel where the food was awesome – absolutely perfect. I recommend the scallops and pan roasted hake fillet!
Home again, and I delivered part of a quilt commission this morning, to a lovely lady who has asked me to make four memory quilts to mark her twins’ 18th birthday. Two quilts had been completed before our jaunt so they formed the first part of the order. This evening I’ll be starting on Catherine’s king-size quilt! It’s lovely to be back home and I’ve a little collection of sea glass hidden away in my coat pocket that I must find a home for – to remind me of our weekend away.
What did you get up to over the Bank Holiday?
28/03/2020 § 3 Comments
since I ventured into my little blog.
A lot has happened but we’ve emerged the other side and into the abyss!
I’m not going to do a long catch up post because life goes on and we plough through. As my mother used to say “It’s a lot better than the alternative!” So, in the spirit of staying positive, I thought I’d put out some photos of quilts that I’ve been working on, starting with the most recent – soon to be quilted – Cloud Farm …
Why Cloud Farm?
Well, I’ve rediscovered my love of jigsaws … I sense your confusion,
but there is a connection …
Recently, when we used to go out and about and meet people, I gave a WI talk and was thrilled to find, on their Bring and Buy table, a jigsaw of Lynmouth. Now, I spent every summer holiday there as a child – it was like my 2nd home and I love the village to this day. I last visited in 2016 and hope to again stroll down Mars Hill and through the little High Street to the Post Office. The jigsaw captures the 1960’s perfectly – in fact, I can just imagine being there as a 5 year old, with my Dad helping out on the boats and being treated to an ice cream on the quay.
Jigsaws are pure therapy. They’re a mind-absorbing challenge where music can play in the background and the journey can’t be hurried. As I delighted in finding piece after piece to fit snugly together, my mind wandered back to childhood days and haunts around the Doone Valley, Brendon Farm and Oare Church. I recalled sitting in the back of our little blue VW Beetle, driven by Dad, and seeing the sign for Cloud Farm. Who wouldn’t love to live on a farm called Cloud Farm!
So, there’s the connection. I was planning a quiet, peaceful, tranquil quilt and yesterday, when I’d finished piecing the rows together, I stepped out into bright sunshine with just one distant cloud and the name came to me. This quilt, when it’s finished, will be one of the many reminders of this strange time that we’re living through and a perfect day, happy childhood memories and will be named Cloud Farm.
Hope you’re finding absorbing, creative pastimes to occupy you and reliving happy memories and making plans for future jaunts, when the time is right.
09/08/2017 § 2 Comments
I didn’t think we’d need an ark!
I can’t believe it’s almost 2 months’ since I treated myself to a jaunt to North Devon – and my beloved Lynmouth. A few treasures came home with me including the little weather house and clock. They remind me of my childhood and so many happy times spent in this picturesque village by the sea.
My grandfather used to come on holiday with us when we lived in Cardiff and he always bought me little presents like the weather house. The little lady was out in her garden all the time when I was away, and right up till the beginning of the school holidays. The little man has been out ever since!
I haven’t wound the clock since I bought it – and it ticked for 3 days – all the way home in the boot of the car. It was like driving a time-bomb!! Oh, I do love a bit of nostalgia and now that they’re hanging on the wall in my studio, I feel as though I’m about 8 years old – every day.
Wall-to-wall sunshine and a heatwave lasted throughout my mini holiday. So here are some blue skies to remind us all that it is still summer …
View from my room at The Bath Hotel – what a treat to wake up to this every morning
Glen Lyn boats in their blue livery
Lorna Doone Farm, Malmsmead – where I first sat on a horse, when I was about 18 months old
Oare Church where, in RD Blackmore’s famous romantic novel, Lorna Doone was shot on her wedding day.
I encountered a small herd of Exmoor ponies during an evening drive around the moor. Mares and foals enjoying the warmth of the summer sun on their backs on the longest day of the year.
Then a brief visit to the National Trust village of Selworthy as I wound my way home.
The waves of nostalgia that I encountered on that trip rather took me by surprise. As a family, we share a history with Lynmouth. My mother stayed in the village as a child, with her parents. When they were ‘courting’ Mum & Dad used to catch the steamer from Wales and cross the channel for day excursions then when they married, holidayed there regularly with their friends and my uncle. When I was born, we visited every year until I was almost a teenager. I took my husband to Lynmouth, before we were married and then again when our children were young. More recently, we visited in our motorhome.
This was my first ever trip on my own and the memories swept me – almost off my feet. But not in a bad way – Lynmouth will always be dear to me and I felt peaceful and happy as I wandered around the village and caught the familiar cliff railway up to Lynton. I always thought that I’d live there, but increasingly over recent years, I feel rooted in Winchester and my home is here. Coming home was good – though the weather took a turn and hasn’t turned back – yet!
Tomorrow promises sunshine – let’s keep everything crossed, shall we? I have a quilt to finish and I rather fancy sitting out in the sunshine and doing some gentle stitching.
Enjoy the summer – and your holidays
21/03/2014 § Leave a comment
A sea-green gossamer thread winds between my needles with silken sheen and breathy touch …
I fell in love with Exmoor as a young girl. I knew the place before I could walk – where the East Lyn meets the West Lyn lies Lynmouth in North Devon – a tiny seaside village forever bound to Lynton, at the top of the hill, by the Cliff Railway and surrounded by the mystical beauty of Exmoor. I must go there again very soon.
There’s lots about the Natural Dye Studio on their website and I can only think that some of the magic of their surroundings is woven into their most beautiful yarns – I can almost feel it when I unwrap a skein of their deliciously dyed – and Exmoor named – yarn.
How I have struggled with beautiful Withypool. I began my search for patterns well before it arrived through the letter box and throughout the lengthy wait for my yarn toys to be delivered just after Christmas. Crochet patterns stacked up in my head, on my laptop and my chair-side table but no matter how I tried, none worked for me on my hook.
I then found the Rill Scarf on Ravelry. Whilst pondering the picture problem in Coventry last week, I began knitting – and just as with my previous attempts – failed! (Not due to the pattern which is well written). In desperation, I cast on just 20 stitches once more and did my own thing …
What do you think? I’m not through my first yarn cake yet, so there’s a way to go but I’m in no rush. Sometimes I’ll snatch just a couple of rows whilst I enjoy a bit of a sit down, sometimes a whole evening – it makes no difference – it grows VERY slowly and I’m not measuring! I shall reach half-way at some point in April – maybe when I’ve just started yarn cake 2.
Will the 2nd half look like the first – more or less – probably!! I haven’t written it down and counting rows is fiendishly difficult. One thing’s for sure – I’m not unravelling it again!! I can’t help thinking about a lacy border, but maybe the simplicity of the wobbly edge (hopefully less wobbly once blocked), will work.
Have you worked with lace yarn that isn’t fluffy? I’m not sure I’m a good enough knitter, really. Yarn with a bit of pile seems to hide a multitude of sins. All I can see are wobbles, when I look at the close-ups – oh dear.
What’s on your needles/hook as Spring arrives?
Enjoy the weekend.
11/01/2014 § 2 Comments
and sumptious new yarn!
Have you discovered the Natural Dye Studio? They’re based in North Devon, an area I know very well and love immensely. I’ve made several bits and bobs for myself as I adore their lace weight yarns. I made these, my favourite of which is my Tearose Shawl.
NDS yarns are named after local places – Withypool, Lynmouth, Watersmeet, Parracombe – ah, I’m almost there on the Cliff Railway, walking up Glen Lyn Gorge which seemed like my second home when I was little, out across the bay in one of the Oxenham’s boats or walking the dogs on hot summer days and paddling in the Lyn rivers on the way up to Watersmeet. Now the yarn, that arrives so quickly – often within 24 hours of my placing an order – takes me back and I soak up all those happy childhood memories as I work with hook or needles.
Before Christmas I decided to treat myself to some new ‘toys’ and now, finally, I’m all set up.
Such a simple little gadget that clips under a worktop or table. As the yarn winds around – by turning the handle – the angle of the winder means that a symmetrically wound yarn ‘cake’ is formed. The only moan that I have is that the wire yarn holder (on the left) doesn’t stay upright easily, even when it’s clicked out, and if that drops the yarn gets into a horrible knot under the winder. I hold the bottom of the wire thingy and it works just fine.
Here’s how the yarn starts out …
Oh those colours and you wouldn’t believe how soft and luscious it is in the hand. Just imagine winding 800m of lace weight yarn into balls – I’ve done it in the past and 3 hrs later, with all limbs aching, I’ve wondered if I’d ever recover in time to make anything!
Ten short minutes later here’s what I have …
Now, I’m missed a bit out – another vital ‘toy’ that I treated myself to. It’s all well and good having a skein of yarn and a yarn winder, but what you really need too, is one of these …
and a collie watching my every move!
I found it very difficult to photograph my yarn swift, so the first image is from Amazon – where I bought both my swift and winder. I won’t recommend any suppliers as there were a few problems, but I’m delighted now they’re both here. I rigged them up very quickly on either side of the breakfast bar this morning.
I’d have loved a wonderful wooden swift, but although relatively cheap and cheerful, my vivid green one appears to do the job very well.
So, what’s on my hook? Well, nothing at the moment ‘cos I’m deliberating about what to make. Anything made from lace weight yarn is going to be a WIP for months so I’m currently searching for a perfect pattern. Probably crochet but possibly knitting. Any bright ideas anyone? Do point me in the direction of some good patterns if you know of any. I’m thinking of a wide and lacy shawl or scarf.
Enjoy your weekend – the sun is shining here – YaY!
14/05/2013 § 4 Comments
Last year I completed 2.5 scarf/shawls – the .5 was a black one and I’ve never quite finished it, although I did wear it to a wedding in December! Nobody noticed that it wasn’t finished because the deep lace border was (and still is) entirely in my head!
I’m not in the mood for black crochet at the moment, with Spring flourishing and about to burst into our lives. As I write, it’s lashing rain and blowing a veritable gale. It’s pitch dark outside and there have been several nasty banging noises – I hope the shed roofs are still on the sheds in the morning and nothing too valuable has blown down.
My fascination with lace weight yarn continues as I’m creating just for me at the moment – no fairs, no deadlines – I’m having a wonderful time. It’s bliss! My favourite shawl from last year was Tea Rose …
I blogged about Tea Rose and Smoke here and here. They were both worked in Solomon’s Knot or Lovers’ Knot stitch which is basically double crochet with the stitch pulled out a bit! They’ve been very well worn since I made them at the end of last summer and I’m still wearing them almost every day! Last week, I began Moss – a heady yarn compiled from baby alpaca, cashmere and silk – from The Natural Dye Studio based in North Devon. I am finding it very hard to resist treating myself to some more of this yarn – many are named after places from my past – Lynmouth, Withy Pool and Watersmeet. Oh, I desperately need to go to North Devon very soon.
I’m planning to do a tutorial for the stitch and the deep lace border that’s definitely going to be added to this project – 3 sides of lace me thinks! Moss won’t be finished for a while – sometime next month – maybe.
I’ve used the stitch for snoods too – it’s so simple once you get the hang of it …
This one’s my favourite at the moment and is perfect over t-shirts. Just one ball, about 80 starting chain and 20 rows makes a whole snood with a row of double crochet top and bottom – simples! I have a whole collection made from different colours in the Drops Baby Merino collection – it’s wonderfully soft yarn and works up quickly. I love the soft, stretchy, frothy effect of this stitch – and it’s very warm!
What’s on your hook?
30/08/2012 § 1 Comment
not quite gone!
Happy memories of a wonderful season here in Hampshire, my home in Wales, Devon, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire …
Last night on the weather forecast (which is really good for the weekend – yippee), the presenter said that for statistical purposes, summer ends tomorrow – 31 August. But Mother Nature signals the passing of a season in so many more subtle ways than merely by a date. The signs have been creeping up for a week or so. From a few degrees of heat-loss throughout the day, dewy mornings, ripening fruit on the trees and bushes and our own special season indicator – our white birch tree. This magnificent specimen which graces our lawn, and from which over the years, swings have swung, teenagers have huddled and ducks have nested (well one duck anyway), has developed a decidedly golden tinge – if I was painting in watercolours, there would be significantly more gold than green in the mix!
Tomorrow evening we’ll wave goodbye to summer and all that she has shared with us. It’s been wonderful and I’ve loved every minute. Autumn is my very favourite season of the year though I never quite know why. The colours, I think are closest to my heart – auburn leaves, russet fruit and golden browns with a misty cloak drawn over magical mornings, sparkling cobwebs and the need to wear wools again, after weeks of cottons and linens. Yes, I love the autumn.
I finished an amazing shawl/scarf for myself last week and will show you very soon. I’m working on another one in the evenings as I simply love, love, love working with lace-weight yarn at the moment. I haven’t yet photographed all the quilts I made over the summer, but I’ll have to get on with it as it’s the first fair of the Autumn in Winchester on Sunday. The Vintage & Retro market will be in full swing so if you’re passing by, then stop and say hello. I hope others will be looking forward to snuggling up and decide to treat themselves to a quilt!
Bye bye summertime, hello Autumn!
03/09/2011 § Leave a comment
I couldn’t sleep and began to think back to my childhood …
We spent every summer on holiday in North Devon. The 3 of us and our boxer dog packed into Billie for the journey and the ferry across the Severn.
I skated with Dad on the lake at Roath Park, in the winter of 1963.
Dad went to see Dr Zivago on a Saturday afternoon in 1965 – on his own!
The mountain slid onto the village of Aberfan in 1966. A generation of children in the primary school were killed. We watched grainy images on our little television and Dad took blankets to the local collection point.
Summers were long and hot. I had a tricycle with white tyres and a swing in the garden. Winters were cold and I wore a blue sheepskin coat, which lasted for several years!
I waved Dad off to work through the breakfast room window and went to a funny little school in a large house! Mum brought me home for lunch – banana sandwiches. I remember teatimes watching the television, my tea on my lap.
I loved Champion the Wonder Horse.
My grandparents lived with us and I adored my grandfather. My youngest son reminds me of him so much – calm, sensible, funny and very tall! I’m rather like my grandmother – love sewing, an unruly head of hair and firm opinions!
Sometimes it’s fun to look back and see what’s changed. I must look out some old photos next time I visit ‘home’ in Wales. Now that’s something to look forward to … but first, a good night’s sleep! What do you remember from your childhood?