Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Happy Happy Happy New Year to Everyone!

Today, after torrential rain and thunderstorms for the last two days, the sun came out and it actually felt like spring had finally arrived! I am not easily fooled, and temperatures at and below freezing have been forecast for next week but, oh, this sun is so welcome.  As it turned out, I had changed the bedlinen this morning and, instead of draping it over the airer (I have a tumble dryer but am loathe to use it), I have pegged it out on the line, feeling the warmth of the sun as I did - and it's drying!  I know it will not last; I know I will be back to wearing extra layers; I also know that we are still very much in the depths of winter ....but today's sunshine has lifted my spirits and assured me that spring is actually on the way.

I am also fully aware that those of you in other parts of the world have freezing conditions right now, and I hope you are all coping and keeping warm and safe.

This photo was taken facing the sun but you can still see the blue of the sky - it really has been a beautiful day today.

Thanks to all who have visited my blog this year.  I hope to keep posting regularly throughout 2010, with photos of the renovation work on the house, things I have knitted and crocheted, updates about the charity knitting thread running on, places I visit whilst I am still exploring my corner of France, and anything else that crops up along the way.  I have discovered some lovely blogs this year and look forward to visiting them regularly, so thanks to all those whose blogs I have enjoyed -  I can't wait to catch up with you in 2010.

Above all, I wish you all a HAPPY, HEALTHY AND WEALTHY New Year!



Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Happy Christmas to All!

Christmas cards from beloved grandchildren. What a surprise I had when I checked the mailbox the other day!  Cards lovingly made by Sam, aged 9, and Lucy, aged 6.  I love them and will treasure them always.  I love the unabandoned creativity of children, and looking at these cards reminds me of times spent crafting with them both.  My dining room table would be laden with all manner of things for them to use and, due to their fired-up imagination and inventiveness, I have several items made out of all sorts of weird and wonderful bits and pieces.

As I think I've said before, this Christmas will be so different from previous ones. It's our first one in France and we are far away from loved ones.  We are staying with friends on the big day, and overnight, and, while it will be a lovely Christmas in wonderful company, I shall so miss the family, and cooking the Christmas dinner!  I consider myself blessed because my loved ones are happy and healthy, and that thought will be uppermost in my mind over the next few days. So many people in the world have suffered this year, and I count myself very lucky with my lot in life.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a very Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

It snowed!

Well, I haven't posted on here for ages - life gets in the way sometimes!  This was the extent of our snow here in SW France.  Nowhere near as bad as in northern France or the UK.  It was very very cold, though, and went down to -11 degrees some nights.  It has warmed up over the last couple of days, though.  I didn't want the snow to settle because, although we are only five minutes away from town by car, we have to drive down country roads to get there, and they don't seem to grit here! 

Footprints in the snow.  This was Louis the cat's first experience of snow; he was obviously pacing about waiting for someone to open the front door!

The view down the drive. We managed to get both our cars under cover in the barn to the right. It's a huge barn that will be pulled down next year because it's a bit unsightly. It's handy, though. Besides our two cars, we have a one-ton trailer and our neighbours' caravan in there, along with a load of old hay that was left behind by the last owners.

Well, I've done loads of knitting and crochet lately, all presents to take back to family members when we visit the UK in the New Year.  I shall post photos when I've finished them all.

Husband is currently working on a new step outside the door, so photos of that to follow, too, when it's finished.  At the moment, the step is a real mess, and too narrow for safety. At least when it's done I shall stop falling off it!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Where does all the time go?!

Good morning everyone.

I've just updated the Knit Your Square running totals for the last week. Considering it's such a busy time for everyone, the figures are amazing!

I had every intention of posting photos of some of the things I have been making for Christmas pressies, but the batteries have died in the camera. They are recharging as I type, so I shall have to take the photos later. Watch this space!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ruffle scarves, photos and free patterns!

I've been loving making these scarves! They're so quick, very satisfying to make, and make lovely gifts.  I started off with a free pattern I found online, then decided to experiment on the same theme. I've come up with three different ideas and would like to share them with you.  I've included a link to the original pattern in my instructions, because the actual ruffle element is not mine - I've just adapted it!  I hope you find my patterns useful!

My three crochet ruffle scarves.

This one was worked in Sirdar Denim Chunky - a very soft yarn.

I used Robin Aran in cream for this one.

This one was crocheted in Courtelle Chevy with Wool DK in shade 4362.

Experimenting with Ruffles

Using the same basic principle of the ruffle scarf    (   I’ve been trying out a few variations. Here are the instructions for anyone who would like to try them.  I hope they make sense – if not, please ask!

IMPORTANT:   With all ruffle scarves, working the foundation chain loosely makes the first row easy!

Cream Scarf

This was worked in Robin Aran weight wool (but any chunky yarn would do) with a No 6 (UK) hook, and was so so simple to make.

Ch to length required for completed scarf.

1st (and only!) row: SC into 7th chain from hook, ch 7, SC into same stitch, *ch 7, SC into next st, ch 7 SC into same st* to end. Fasten off and weave in the ends.

 Denim Scarf

This was worked in Sirdar Denim Chunky with a No 6 (UK) hook

Ch to length required for completed scarf.

1st Row:  SC into 7th chain from hook, ch 7, SC into same stitch, *ch 7, SC into next st, ch 7, SC into same st* to end.

2nd Row:  same as 1st row but worked into the other side of the foundation row. Fasten off and weave in the ends.

The second row could be worked in a contrasting colour – something I’ll try next, now I’ve thought about it!

Dark Blue Scarf worked in Drop Stitch

This was worked in DK yarn (Courtelle Chevy DK with Wool from my stash. I’ve had it for years, so have no idea if it’s still available!).

Drop Stitch instructions:  Into each stitch, YO, insert into st, YO again but this time  pull up to about an inch, pull yarn through all 3 loops on hook, then ch 1 to ‘lock’ the stitch into place.

Ch to length required for completed scarf.

1st Row:  Work 1 drop stitch into fourth chain from hook, then 1 into each chain to end. Turn.

2nd Row:  Ch 4, work 2 drop stitches into each space made by the ‘locking’ chain of the previous row. Turn.

3rd Row:  Ch 4, work 2 drop stitches into each space between every drop stitch of the previous row.

Fasten off and weave in the ends or, if a wide scarf is required, repeat 3rd row.


Having a luffley ruffley time!

Good morning, everyone! It's been a while since I last posted - I've been 'helping' with the renovations on the house which has kept me fairly occupied. Thankfully, I still have the evenings free to knit and crochet. I've been making ruffle scarves which are really satisfying and quick to make. A lot of my relatives and friends will be having one for Christmas, so they're money-saving, too!  I shall post photos and pattern instructions in my next post.

The weather, having been really wet and windy for the last three weeks, suddenly took a change for the better yesterday, and we had a glorious day. I managed to empty some flower tubs, and I brought my geraniums in to over-winter in the conservatory.  I shall spend some time over the next couple of months deciding what to do with the garden in the spring - which seems a long way away right now!

Christmas is looming now that December is here. We are planning on visiting the UK in January. This will be my first Christmas without seeing the children and grandchildren, which I'll find really difficult. Thank heavens for Skype; at least I can see them all on the day, even if it is only on screen.  We are spending Christmas day with some very good friends who live about an hour away. We'll be staying overnight, which will be lovely.  They are both chefs so, of course, we are really looking forward to it!  I can't remember the last time I didn't have to cook the Christmas dinner, so it will be a real treat.  We'll be taking lots of wine, some cheeses, chocolates, and other goodies with us, and I just know we will have a great time in wonderful company.

Here in France, they've just started putting up the decorations in the stores so everything is looking lovely.  The gift ideas have been around for the last month, and one of our local stores has a Croix Rouge (Red Cross) stand which will wrap your pressies in return for a donation to the cause. It's a great idea, and they are very busy. I haven't tried it yet but will do soon.

The Christmas card selections here are, sadly, pretty dire compared to the UK (and very very expensive!), so I'm pleased I already have loads which were bought in the UK before we left.  I just need to find time to write them out!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The sky - so full of promise!

I had every intention of posting photos of all the things I have been crocheting over the last couple of weeks for Christmas presents but, as they all need the ends sewing in, this has been postponed. I now have my usual WIP bag, and a new addition - my 'things-that-need-the-ends-sewing-in-in-progress' bag (TTNTESIIP). I have promised myself that this weekend will be a finishing-off weekend.

Instead, I took yet more pictures of 'our' sky. We are lucky enough to have a huge panoramic view of farmland from the back of our house and the sky is huge; at night, because we have no street-lighting, it is studded with hundreds of thousands of stars  which take your breath away.  I will try and take photos.  This photo was taken at around 7 am on Wednesday morning. We have shutters here so it is hard to tell what the outside looks like when we first get up in the morning and, sometimes, I open the shutters and am so taken aback by what I see that I have to race outside in my dressing-gown and take photos. What the neighbours think, I have no idea!  I'm sure I can hear them muttering 'that crazy English woman'!

At the moment, I am crocheting lots of ruffle scarves for presents but I also want to make a pocket angel to send to my sister. She has been in hospital recently with something that has yet to be properly diagnosed. It's her birthday next week and I thought an angel would look after her for me, so I need to get that in the post asap. In fact, I've just realised how little time I have so I will definitely get that done today!

I hope that I will soon be posting crochet-related photos and not even more of the sky!

Thanks for popping in.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A very welcome day of sunshine - for a change!

This was how our day started yesterday. The sun was full of promise and really lived up to it for the rest of the day. We've had a gloomy couple of weeks so this was very welcome.

You can just see the leaves beginning to change colour. I love this time of year when we get a proper autumn day.

This is  part of the view from the front of the house. You can just make out our neighbours' mad-as-a-hatter dog. We don't have much experience of dogs but they ask us to look after him when they are way. His name is Bondi (said with a French accent!), and he is truly away with the fairies! Very friendly but hyperactive, and it takes the two of us to get his lead on, and that's after letting him have the lead so he can charge around the garden with it for half an hour!

Not a very good picture, but this is a well that needs a lot of TLC - a project for the Spring, I think.

Another view from the back; the trees are all changing colour which can only be appreciated when the sun is shining.

I absolutely love this view of the drive and the little lane we have to drive down to get to the house. We are lucky enough to have the space for two entrances; they have matching double gates which we picked up a few years ago when we found them on offer. The land to the right beyond the gates is ours, and has been divided into three building plots for which we were lucky enough to get planning permission. We've sold one plot, and the other two are currently up for sale. The hamlet has around thirty houses at the moment, and the local Mairie (mayor) is very keen to attract newcomers to the area, so he was more than happy to rubber-stamp our application for planning permission.

The sun is just starting to go down here. I'm standing under the willow tree which is, sadly, losing its leaves for the winter.

It was a truly lovely warm sunny day and really soothed my soul!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A mixed weekend

 These are the little booties I have made as a Christmas present for my latest granddaughter. It's a very simple pattern but has taken ages due to my cold stopping play for ages, but I am quite pleased with the results.

This is a scarf I've made for a Christmas present for a friend.  The pattern is very easy and I'll be making several more, I think.

Well, this weekend was a little better than the last one, mainly because my cold is finally on its way out, although I had a rotten night's sleep last night because I kept waking up either coughing or sneezing. In the end, I gave in and got up for a cuppa. An afternoon nap will definitely be on the agenda today!
I hope those of you in the UK didn't suffer any damage from the storms - I watched all the weather forecasts and the news items,  and it looked pretty wet and windy. We had a milder version of it here but our forecast gets better as the week progresses - apparently!  I didn't stray far this weekend because I still feel a bit worn out from the cold, but I hope to get out and about this week. I feel an urge for some real fresh air and a stroll so I may visit one of our local parks with my camera.  I love the fact that we can post photos on here - isn't technology wonderful?!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Nature is wonderful!

In the midst of a gloomy grey and wet fortnight, nature provided us with a few wonders, such as this glorious sunrise. The colours were amazing and the way the clouds were drifting along was almost mesmerising.

We found a new park yesterday. It was my first trip out for a few days, having been housebound due to my first French cold/virusy thingy. It was a lovely mild autumny day with a not-very-bright sun, but still lovely to be out and about.

Not the best photo in the world, but one of a family of deer we came across, quite unexpectedly, in the park.

I picked up some autumn leaves because I couldn't resist them, although it seemed a shame to spoil the display that nature had made of them!  Gathering them up reminded me of nature tables many summers ago, when we would collect things to take to school. My boys also loved to collect things for a nature table at home. I've decided I'm going to start another one today. We have 'nature' all around us but, with such busy lives, we sometimes forget to 'stand and stare'. I'm going to try very hard to do some standing and staring every day from now on.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A little goat shed and a lot of renovation!

A little goat shed in the back garden  - currently used by Louis the cat when he's caught out in the rain!

The office partly renovated. We still need to replace the pane of glass in the window and paint the window frames.  The ceiling needs plastering but the cabling is in place for the downlights.  Oh, and we have to decide on flooring, too. This room will eventually be my office but will be a temporary sitting room during the winter months, while the real sitting room is being renovated.The building you can see outside is another barn we found we owned on the day of purchase.  The road in between is ours, too!

This area was originally one great big room but we have turned the space into an office off a big hallway. The hallway has had a new staircase fitted and the bit above the stairs will be vaulted, with a gallery landing. Originally the stairs were a rickety wooden ladder on the outside of the building, so this is progress indeed!

This is the downstairs bathroom which is right next to the kitchen, handily enough! It looks even better in here now because Husband cleaned the shower doors yesterday and they are gleaming! The cubby-hole next to the window will eventually have old pine doors fitted to turn it into a cupboard.

Again, this area was one big room which has been turned into a bathroom, utility room (photos of that later when it's been finished and is not being used as a general dumping ground!), and another hall (which visiting friends decided was a boot-room!)

I am so ashamed of the shower doors in this photo - since Husband cleaned them, we have a squeegee in place to keep them clean!

Saturday, November 7, 2009



In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

...Lt. Col. John Macrae

Monday, November 2, 2009

A strange weekend

The weekend has disappeared in quite a blur. On Friday night, we were back at the hospital because my husband's infected finger was still causing him problems, so it was treated again and seems to be healing now.

We had three cute little witches knocking on the door on Halloween - our neighbours' lovely daughters. Luckily, I had the sweeties ready but, if I hadn't, there's no way they'd have carried out any tricks! They're all so beautifully behaved, like all French children. We live in a very small hamlet (about twenty five other houses) and would not have been surprised if we'd had no Halloween callers; as it was, the girls had to call while it was still daylight - with no streetlighting here at night, they'd never have found the house!

Yesterday, I started a cold so I spent the afternoon under a blanket on the sofa feeling sorry for myself - I have the sniffles and a bit of a cough but, when I woke up this morning, was pleasantly surprised to find that I didn't feel that unwell, so I'm hoping it's a mild dose.

Well, that was my weekend so I hope I haven't made anyone feel down!

Friday, October 30, 2009

A Scarf for Christmas

I have just finished this scarf which will be a Christmas present. I had intended to add a fringe but I ran out of yarn, so I crocheted two of Lucy's (Attic 24) flowers in crochet thread to add as an embellishment.

Another Christmas present just started, using Caron's Ruffle Scarf pattern (but in trebles instead of dcs)  It's pictured alongside one of my favourite books, which I read for inspiration!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


This is the entrance to one of our favourite vineyards. It is run by a lovely young couple who produce the most fantastic wines. Their Coteaux de Layon, a dessert wine, is superb.  But then, so is everything else they produce. You can sample everything, including the pure grape juice before it has been fermented - truly delicious.  Just over the road, you can see the vines from which the wine is produced - acres and acres of them. Pure bliss!

This is not a very good picture because the light was fading (and I may have sampled just a little bit too much!).

Barrels, boxes

and great big vats!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Flowers from France

These two beautiful roses were presented to me at our wonderful 'new arrivals' reception at the weekend. The photo does not do justice to the rich, almost citrus, orange of the blooms. And, yes, I know the shutter needs painting!

Crocheted Wrist-Warmers (idea pinched from Attic24:!)

I shamelessly pinched this idea from Lucy's lovely blog, Attic24. We had a horrid cold spell over the last two weeks, and my hands were freezing cold. I have fingerless gloves but I found that the individual fingers restricted my hands too much - these were perfect. Thanks, Lucy! They are by no means as brilliant as yours - for a start, I was too lazy to think about sewing in all the ends, which is why I just used two colours!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The smallest window in France?

If you look to the left of the timbers, on the same eyeline as the horizontal timber in the leaded window, you will see the tiniest window I've ever seen. Click on the photo to zoom in, scroll down a bit,  and you will see that every pane is a different colour!
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How the timbers are kept in place!

This may have been remedial work carried out at some point because these iron pieces don't go all the way along this part of the building, just the bit above the front door - perhaps it had been slammed a few times over the centuries!
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Even the meters here have shutters!

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