Friday, 14 July 2017

Celebration Walk


It was Best Beloved's birthday, on Wednesday. Traditionally, we take the day off, and head for Exmoor. This year we made for Tarr Steps. It was a beautiful day, sunny and clear, but not quite as warm as of late. A perfect day for walking, in  fact.
We crossed the 'steps', which are large slabs of slate laid across huge rocks set in the river. Then we walked upstream for about a mile, crossed the bridge back across the river, and continued upstream for a while. Then we turned and followed the flow back downstream to the 'steps'. The main River, the Barle, is fed by lots of little streams and trickles. This sweet little bridge was one of many different designs and ages of bridge that we came across.
 

There were many types of insect about. B.B. picked up this beetle, a Dor Beetle, which was on it's back on the path. It's legs and underside were the most amazing iridescent blue.
Despite having a good identification book specifically on Fungi, we have been unable to identify this oddity. It was growing in grass, in full sun, is very fleshy, and the colours were really bright. The photo does not do the colours justice.
 

 Lunch was taken at the local Pub, sitting at a table under a huge Oak tree with an enormous girth, listening to the river and the endless birdsong. Bliss!
Onward to Horner Woods, for another walk, this one rather shorter. There were nothing like as many people walking here, so our spaniels were able to run about rather more, hurtling in and out of the river, thoroughly enjoying themselves.
Both of these walks are alongside the river, which flows along the bottom of steep wooded coombes, very typical of Exmoor. Cool, quiet and full of wildlife. In my opinion, and that of BB, the most beautiful place on earth.
The last photo is one I am very proud of. It is of a Silver Washed Fritillary, a butterfly which is not common at all. The specific habitat it needs is fulfilled by the two places we had just walked. We were lucky enough to see many, over twenty, during the course of the day. The Fritillaries are quite flighty, and tend to stay up in the canopy ( of mainly mature Oaks). I was thrilled when one settled on an Oak stump for just long enough for me to take a photo.
So, to the last call of the day - A cream tea, partaken of in the sunny, flowery garden just across the road from the Public Footpath at Horner. A lovely end to a peaceful day's walking.
( and home to watch the Tour de France on TV, naturally! )

 

Monday, 3 July 2017

Sshhh!

I could not help myself........
 
The yarn is so lovely, I sneaked in a quick cast on, and completed the first two clues. That is all I will show until the end of the KAL, though. It is supposed to be a Mystery!

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Cherries


The cherry tree in the orchard regularly has a reasonable crop of fruit. This year has been particularly good despite the lack of rain. We rarely manage to pick any of the cherries though, as the Blackbirds and Pigeons usually get there first. The birds have largely left the fruit alone this summer. There are peas being grown in many of the fields that surround us, this year. A good chance that the two things are linked. We don't mind sharing the fruit with the birds and the animals, but get a bit bored of growing lots of lovely things and not getting to eat any of them!
 The 'Fialka' is growing.....
 

 I am a bit over halfway through the pattern, including the extended lace part. It is not growing quite as fast as I would like - grooming cleavers berries and grass seeds out of spaniel ears takes up quite a lot of each evening. A good excuse for a cuddle!

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Knit-A-Long

Last week, I clicked onto Ravelry, to bring my Susanna IC 'Fialka' project up to date... and there was a new Susanna Ic Knit-A-Long gearing up! Well, what can a girl do? I had to join.
 It begins this week, so finding yarn was essential. Providentially, Somerset Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers were holding a Fibre and Fleece Day on Saturday, so off I went, taking a friend with me. There was a great deal of raw fleece being sold ( that is, not washed or carded), a similar amount of prepared fibre ( washed and carded, either by hand or by machine), and also yarn ready for knitting, as well as various equipment. My friend had not been to such an event before, but soon got the idea, and bought herself some rather lovely prepared fleece ( tops). I accidentally (! ) bought some lovely John Arbon alpaca/polworth/silk tops.


I also bought this very lovely greyish green 3-ply yarn. Alpaca/silk/cashmere it will be perfect for the KAL. So, now I need to wind the yarn into a ball and find the right needles in preparation for the start of the KAL. But first- get on with the Fialka!

Monday, 19 June 2017

Visit

In July 2009, I wrote a post in which I introduced the very small group of Orchids, which we had discovered growing in our woodland. A few years later, I  wrote about a new small colony nearer the house, in great excitement. One plant on what we laughingly call The Croquet Lawn. This year, we have 48 Orchids flowering, and 4 more as basal rosettes. ( They should flower next year).
  
Another discovery was of 3 small groups of Ragged Robin, another scarce wildflower, not far from the many Orchids. With the Cuckoo Flowers ( Ladies Smock, Cardamine pratens ) the lawn is developing into a wildflower meadow. Very satisfying.
 
Last week saw Best Beloved and I make a day trip long planned, and frequently put off. The Rose Gardens of David Austen. The staff were all most welcoming, especially towards our spaniels. Dogs are welcome throughout the site, except the Tea room and Restaurant.

The gardens are set out in a number of different styles. Formal, country, linear, many of the roses repeated in the different setting, displaying their versatility. There were two roses which I had intended to buy, 'Munstead Wood'  and 'Wild Eve'. I also bought 'The Albrighton Rambler', which I had been thinking about. The superb scent swung the decision.
(Above- 'Munstead Wood')
David Austen roses are known for their delicious scents, as well as their old-fashioned form, with improved health. We spent a delightful day wandering around, smelling all the different rose scents, admiring the beautifully maintained gardens, and having a relaxed lunch. Water was provided for the spaniels.

This proud beauty was wandering around the gardens, making a tremendous racket. Apparently there are several pairs. The spaniels kept a vey close eye on this one.... could it be a pheasant in disguise?
The weather was beautiful, we could not have asked for more. A lovely day in a beautiful place.


Friday, 9 June 2017

Lace

This 'Afmaeli' Icelandic sweater was finished midway through January this year. I made it for Best Beloved at his request. Like many men, he has decided preferences in knitwear, but also like many men, does not express those preferences until something is made which does not get worn. I learned that lesson long ago, so was delighted when he made clear choices on pattern and colours. A happy result, which has been worn many times already.
The pattern is by Vedis Jonsdottir. The yarn is Istex Letlopi ( aran weight). All bought though Deramores. The main body is Light Ash, the contrasts are White, and Black Heather. The collar is knitted in John Arbon Textiles Alpaca Supreme, in Light Steel, held double. ( Bought at John's Mill Open Day).
 
 
Despite making the 'Afmaeli', my knitting mojo has been sadly lacking for a while. Last week I made a start on a new laceweight shawl, which is growing faster than I anticipated. The pattern is 'Fialka', by Susanna Ic ( surprise! ).The yarn is Knitwitches Pure Cashmere Laceweight. I am making it for my chum Sharon, who supplied me with the yarn. Which is fabulous to work with, incidentally. It is such a shame that Knitwitch/Olwen has retired.

This is the second 'Fialka' I will have made, the first being for Asti/Juno Fibre Arts. It is a lovely pattern. I think I may have to make one for myself.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Cutting Garden

Sweet Peas are a perennial favourite, and the backbone of my summer planting. The placement of their growing area has progressed around the garden, each successive year finding the last year's site full. Last year a bed in the Kitchen Garden was annexed. This year, the grandly named Cutting Garden has been developed. In fact, this is a reasonably sized bed in the Kitchen Garden, alongside the newly created fruit cage.
 
 
The bed contains several varieties of Ranunculus, a row of Brodia, some Antirhinum, and quite a lot of Dahlias. The rows of annuals are not really showing, as we are in desperate need of some rain, despite watering daily. Next year I will have to weed out some of the (many) Dahlias.


With a little judicious picking, in both the flower garden and the cutting garden, it's remarkably easy to end up with a reasonable posy.