Lurchers and Llamas

Ok, that’s it, we’re bored now…it’s all …too…WHITE….

 We were off to the other side of the county today for lunch with my cousin and after a lovely day yesterday it was a pain to wake up to frost, ice and gloom and then sleet. We had a phone call from said cousin to warn us they had a couple of inches of snow, but as it seemed the main road was clear and they had a tractor to get us out of any trouble we might run into on the track to their farmhouse we decided to brave it. 

Apart from the nice people, and the good food, we wanted to see their lurcher.   They have two – lovely gentle dogs and I do love  lurchers. ( We used to have one, an enormous blonde called Spike, who was a complete wus,  having little Higgins was really going from the sublime to the ridiculous!)  However the whole family was devastated about five months ago when the young one was stolen.  Despite the theft being witnessed (and the dog being microchipped) a poster campaign, a reward being offered and information being past all round the county there were no clues or leads and every one was so upset.  

Amazingly, and so happily, about three weeks ago she was found in a field somewhere near Skegness(quite a way from Norfolk)  by a lady who runs a greyhound rescue centre who just happened to be driving along a road she had never travelled on before who recognised her from the poster that had been circulated.  Because of her job she had a chip reader at home and was able to identify her and phone to give the good news.  The whole thing hung on so many happy coincidences it was incredible, and although she was very thin when  she first came home she is now looking good, and full of bounce (as the footprint in the middle of  Higgins ‘ little jumper demonstrated) 

So, a lovely Sunday roast, and syrup sponge and custard – heaven – and then a snowy, slippery walk to try and shift a couple of calories.

I did try to get a picture of both dogs together, but look at the difference in the leg length, Higgins never managed to catch up!

He did meet another creature for the first time….Fergus…

Which was quite interesting…

Mwah!

I don’t think I could cope with the real thing, but I did find another llama I would have loved to bring home…

Isn’t he gorgeous?

I found the monocrome theme continued…

…and although I love snowdrops…

I so long for some colour. So it was nice to get back for a cup of tea and look at my cousin’s latest knitting project.  Craftiness runs in the family, and she is an expert on spinning,weaving, knitting, crochet  and  dyeing.  This was a departure, freeform knitting and crochet.  I’ve done a little and it’s fascinating, but this was spectacular.  It’s a shame the light means the photos don’t really do it justice but WOW, after all that white, we need those colours!

It’s mainly hand dyed silk, with little bits of llama and hand spun fleece.  I’ve just realised I was so excited I didn’t ask what the finished article would be, a knockout waistcoat?

It was a busy day, and very exciting for a small dog with very short legs. A lot of sleeping has been going on.  Higgins has obviously been having colour withdrawal symptoms too.  I bought a new fleece blanket yesterday, with the sofa bed that is going into the studio in mind. Higgins is testing it…

Royal Arcade

Just a short post today. I wanted to share my photos of Norwich’s beautiful Art Nouveau Arcade.  I visited my hairdresser, and as I sat there with my hair covered in goo, knitting away, I realised what a lovely view it had of all the tiles in the upper part of the arcade.  Jon let me take a couple of shots out of the open window, on condition that I didn’t  let any pigeons fly in, or drop my camera on the head of an unsuspecting passerby.
Back on ground level …

Yet again it was a very cold day, so in the interests of not spending any more money, I didn’t dally in town.  By the time I got on the Park and Ride bus my hands were far too cold to carry on with my knitting…

…and in fact needed help with photographing it when I got home…

(Henry is more than a little peeved because Higgins, who had been hogging the fireside all morning while Henry was upstairs on our bed,  decide that the floor was a little hard and dragged his bed across the floor and pushed it up against the fireguard making quite sure there was no chance of Henry doing his usual bully boy thing and chasing him off the hearth rug.)

Talk about smug…

Valentines Day…

…and it was nearly not cold.  Although I have become so lazy I was terribly tempted to curl up on the sofa with the Sunday papers I knew this was a rare chance for some sea air and a mud free walk so we donned warm coats and hats, Higgins too  (well I haven’t manage to get him to wear a hat yet, I suppose I could tie his ears under his chin like a head scarf) and set off for Waxham beach.  Even there we had to wade through mud to get to nice clean sand. I’m so glad we chose a portable dog who can be popped under an arm and kept clean.  It was worth it though…

Although he still has all his puppy playfulness, Higgins is now very much a ‘grown-up’ even if it is in miniature,( but is still a complete ‘Cuddle Sponge’!)

Away in a Manger…

A while ago I mentioned the Crib and Wreath Festival at our local church, and the contribution the Knit and Stitch group were working on.  Last week we all gathered at the church to set up our pieces in readiness for the Festival.  At time like this you see anew the beauty of the typical English church and St Michael and All Angels at Barton Turf is very typical.  It is, of course, far to big for the parish it serves which now no longer has even a village shop, and so it functions under that peculiar regime of worship and fund-raising found up and down the country these days.

   Inside, the stalwart band of ladies essential to the running of any village affair mustered their troops.  How could anything function without these unpaid treasures who organise events, arrange flowers, polish pews,  run errands and generally oil the wheels of rural life?  Years of fundraising for St Michael’s has resulted in the recent installation of a loo and small kitchen, no mean feat to sympathetically integrate these modern necessities into the architecture of a 14th Century church, but it does allow it to function as a community centre, and give it a role which justifies its upkeep.  And means a plentiful supply of soup, rolls, tea and cake for visitors to its various displays, festivals and celebrations. (and coffee and biscuits when you turn up on a cold wet morning to set up your stand!)

I was really happy with the swags we had made for the font, a loose interpretation of the wreath idea which  meant that there were four pieces to be entered for the secret auction, and the rich colours looked beautiful against the pale old stone.  The Knit and Stitch Ladies had been really busy making small items for sale, knitted crackers, stockings and baubles, crochet snowflakes, gift bags, angels and hearts, and the whole display was topped off with an amazing knitted crib scene.  I apologise for the lack of photos at this point, I was over absorbed by the task in hand!

Yesterday afternoon I persuaded my mother out of her house to visit the festival.  Not easy these days now she is wheelchair bound and these things involve ramps and other people fussing.  She hates to feel she is a nuisance.   I’m so glad I did.  The weather was sunny, with a gentle breeze, the church was bright and warm and there were lots of people she knows but hardly sees these days.  She loved the exhibits and then, unexpectedly, there was a Navity Tableau put on by the local primary school.  Are you, like me, completely undone by a childrens Nativity play?  Our local rock star(well he would have been, given the right breaks) strummed carols softly on his guitar while his wife read the Christmas story as the children enacted it.  At the first sight of Joseph in his dressing gown, teatowel on head and glasses slightly crooked, alongside a diminutive Mary teaming traditional blue with Ugg boots, the pair of us welled up.  The shepherds tramped down from the hills in search of baby Jesus, who had been found with surprise under her chair by Mary, and quickly recovered for a cuddle.  As the shepherds reenacted their route from the hills by walking up and down the aisles (gently steered at the corners by a grownup when they looked as if they were heading off course) the smallest one happily swung his lamb backwards and forwards in the air.  Angel Gabriel looked stern, the star twinkled prettily as she led the Kings to the stable, the rock star played ‘Away in a Manger’ and Mother and I dabbed our eyes.

What nicer way to start the run up to Christmas?

Reasons to be cheerful…

Funny how just a little thing can change how you view the day…Getting out in the garden in dressing gown and slippers with the puppy BEFORE the rain starts is always a good start. Higgins hasn’t got the hang of the fact that the more times you make a run for the door without doing what you came out for just prolongs the agony.  He is struggling with country life really, too much weather, he should have gone to live with Paris Hilton. 

Todays mail was very exciting… firstly, red polka dot cake tins…

So good, I had to do styling…

…and my Spoonflower fabric…


When I first discovered Spoonflower I was too intrigued to go away and come up with a new design, I went for the nearest jpg file, my faithful pink sheep, and like it so much I ordered a fat quarter as a test run. My pink sheep started life on an invitation designed by my son Thomas Taylor for my Graduation party four years ago and was originally wearing  a mortar board. I loved her too much to send her off to oblivion, so with the help of Photoshop she hung up her mortar board and joined me here on Planet Penny. I’ve offered to make Thomas a pink sheep bow tie, but strangely, he’s declined…

I was so excited by all this I initially overlooked the fact that my latest copy of ‘Selvedge’ had arrived…Oh. Joy!..

…with this beautiful image on a card inside.

After a wet morning, a band of blue started to spread from the west, and the wind became a breeze, just right for a spot of exercise.  I’ve tried to get round the short dog = cold wet tummy problem with a rather smart fleece jumper for Higgins.  Apart from the fact that I could have bought myself two fleeces for the cost of a tailor-made miniature dachshund one,  getting it on is a bit like putting  skin on a sausage. Then you have the problem of persuading him to get out of bed…

We got out there eventually though…

Even the sugar beet looks good in the sunshine, and you can just see home across the field…

All that was left was to make a cake to justify the fact I had bought not just one, but three tins to put cake in.  I had some windfall apples, so a quick flip around Google and…Easy Apple Cake? …yes, we like easy.   Well, it was easy enough to put together, but who has a 20cm x 30cm tin to hand?  And how would the capacity of a tin you haven’t got compare with the one you have got?  So, a round cake instead.  Fine.  But…how does that affect the cooking time?  Answer – a lot.  After the allotted 40 minutes a gorgeous crispy crust trembled above a completely liquid interior,  another twenty minutes, then ten and then another twenty five minutes before the ‘sod it’ moment when I got it out and decided that was IT.   


And it was.

 Delicious…

Not amber, but blue…

These days I get a very early start, with an alarm clock which goes ‘WUFF’ rather than the traditional buzz or ring.  At this time of the year every glimmer of sunshine is precious so I bounded up stairs with a cuppa for Tim, not quite with a ‘Hi-de-hi, campers’ but to suggest a trip to the beach to enjoy the early morning brightness.  The baleful eye that glowered from under the duvet made me realise that not everyone does the ‘lark’ thing. However it was even more off-putting to get back from the shower to find a second pair of eyes peering out from under the covers, just as determined to stay snug and warm.  Given a choice of whom to wrestle out of bed and get into the car  I went for the eight inch tall option rather than the six footer.

It was worth the effort.  Coming up over the dunes, out of the shadow and into the bright blueness of the sea,  sky and crisp air and on to the deserted sand was an exhilarating feeling. 

The North Sea has a reputation for being wild and cold, but catch it in a benign mood and it’s as lovely as any far flung ‘Paradise’ shore.
As I’m sure is the coast of the Baltic, where my sons have been staying.  From their description all the wildness usually associated with this time of the year has been  there in full force.  Thomas talked about amber, and the petrified forests under the sea, and on investigation I found the amber found along the Norfolk coast comes from those very same forests, brought here from Scandinavia by the glaciers. 
 


So as we walked we looked for amber too, my little sea dog and I, and we didn’t find any either!

It’s been raining…

…quite a bit.  This time last year I would have been happy to turn my back on the weather and find things to distract me indoors, but that was before I was a dog owner. So while I was happy to park myself on the sofa with a DVD  (‘Batman Begins’ – I’ve never seen it – very good) and my latest woolly project (cue tantalizing glimpse…can you tell what it is yet?)…

…I was very aware that I had a small energetic bundle of fun to tire out before bedtime. In the middle of the afternoon the room was filled with that lovely golden light that comes when half the sky is a clear washed blue and the other half is inky with passing rain..

…so it was time to press the pause button and put on the wellies.  Poor Higgins, it’s  bit rough only being three inches off the ground when the puddles are four inches deep!  As it is the house training takes three steps forward and two back every rainy day.  I wonder if you can get umbrellas for dachshunds?

We compromised by splashing down the road and walking back through the grass at the edge of the field to wash the mud off Higgins’ tum.

Although it didn’t go entirely to plan…

Once we got home all that was required was a warm dry towel…

…and a nice cup of liquorice tea…