Consider the woodlouse

My lovely friend Linda (and her husband Keith) furnished me with a very large bundle of their carefully forced rhubarb. Huzzah thought I, I will make some rhubarb jam.  I’ve never been a fan of rhubarb, when I was growing up there was never enough sugar with it and consequently it forced the human face into a myriad of contortions.  However… if I make jam, the problem is solved as there is plenty of sugar involved.  See exhibit a. ( below ) 

The unpredictable fierceness of the new hob ensured that, rather than a batch of jammy goodness, I made a batch of new fangled (previously un-invented)’rhubarb yuk’.  What can I say?  Mr Williams said not to waste it as ” he would put it on his breakfast cereals”.  However, the jars are still there in the pantry, all present and correct; but to be fair to him he did find a use for it.  It made a stunning anchor for the dust sheets, whilst painting the kitchen ceiling.  I dropped the ball there a little as I should have taken a photo of him for my ‘Lessert Spotted SAAB male part three’ feature.  

Mr W came home from the shops last week with a present for me – a window cleaning sponge on a stick!!!!  To be fair, the last present he purchased was a Coach handbag, so I’m happy to take one for the team.

Whilst gardening this week I came across a lot of  woodlice (woodlye, a ‘crusting of woodlice’ – I wonder what the noun for a collection of woodlice is).  These little chaps are mostly forgotten and hated, after all their only claim to fame is appearing in ‘All creatures great and small’ as baby armadillo.  I hadn’t realised that, like hedgehogs, they curl themselves into ball when sensing danger.  This explains their common names of pill bug and roly poly.  I’m designating these my favourite isopods crustaceans – remember other isopod crustaceans are available.

I emote – therefore I am

I didn’t fall down a ravine, die of exposure on the moors or get sucked into a bog.  Unfortunately I had already purchased and worn in the walking boots.  The art and craft weekend at Halsey was great, but the nearest we got to the great outdoors was the front lawn.  Grandad’s COPD was outclassed by the gentleman who arrived atop his happy shopper scooter and I soon realised that there would be no yomping and that I should have just spent the boot money on another handbag.


At Pod’s Cottage Grandad dabbles with painting, when he disappears off to paint he tells us he is off to ’emote’.  He makes a lot of mess doing this so is encouraged to emote in the shed, the garden or some else’s house.  The tutor at Halsway soon had him sussed out ( he has lots of focus on small details) and instead of watercolours of the house and grounds, got him working on a larger scale.  At one point he was working on a large piece in charcoals using the charcoal tied to the end of a long stick.  I was just happy that someone was encouraging me to make mess, there was lots of rubbing in and the session culminated with me doing a fine impression of a Victorian chimney sweep (albeit a very affluent, rotund sweep so not suitable for sweeping at all).  Apparently there is lots of charcoaling happening at Pod’s Cottage; there is also lots of Mum going around with a damp cloth, wiping off handprints.


I think Halsway Manor suited Gramps as meals were announced with a gong and the tea urn arrived at regular intervals.  There were also no limits on the number of biscuits he could have with his tea (unlike at home).  The staff at the Manor were lovely, the atmosphere great and the catering somewhere between a holiday camp, school dinners and the quiet seaside hotels of my childhood.  We were entertained by the folks on the Nyckelharpa course.  The first day of painting was difficult on the ears as the beginners were only repeating the same three or four notes, but by Sunday we didn’t mind them joining us on the grass.  The musicians came from as far afield as Germany and Chile. 

On Friday night, Fightclub (Knit Club) celebrated it’s eight anniversary and moved to a new venue at the Friends Meeting House.  This venue isn’t strictly new as it is where the club first started.  Unfortunately an addictions group also met on the same evening and some of the older ladies were offended and shocked by having to step over bodies on the floor, so the venue was switched.  I’m made of sterner stuff, I have teenagers and therefore am quite used to stepping over bodies.

I’ll have to go – the kettle’s on…..

Farewell to Victoria Wood. I can’t order soup, or listen to anyone else ordering soup, without visualising Julie Walters proffering two sparsely populated soup bowls with the immortal line “Two soups?” I wonder if sales of Woman’s Weekly will increase, now we’ve all listened again to the ballad of Freda and Barry?

I multi-tasked yesterday as I wore in an new pair of walking boots, whilst doing the ironing. The boots are for a painting course this weekend, for which I also needed to acquire waterproof trousers. With this in mind, Alice and I popped into a local countryside store. Stock was limited all sections, except the gun section (which seems to be gradually taking over the rest of the shop). The changing room consisted of a free-standing hardboard box in the centre of the shop. This is a relatively new store, so I’m unsure why they didn’t include fitting rooms in their original build. As I hopped from leg to leg, in my waterproof trews, a little while notice above the mirror caught my eye. Apparently someone called Emma was doing worm counts, you just needed to ask at the counter.

Who knew watercolours were on a par with the three peaks challenge? I thought it was all cups of tea and Jane Austin. I will report back next week. Me, Gramps with his COPD, his chronic sense of direction and a warning of sleety weather – what could possibly go wrong?
 Poor Maurice needed to go the vet’s yesterday. Everyone knows dachshunds conform to an unspoken agreement; whereby said dogs are obliged to contribute to said vet’s vehicles and foreign travel. He (not the vet) looked very sorry for himself and kept tail was tucked up under his tummy, which is a sure sign (in a happy dog) of back or hip pain. Even sitting in the sunshine eating a carrot didn’t help to lift his mood. When Alice returned from college, there was no tail wagging, bottom wiggling or happy squeaking.

Poor little chap returned from the vets, injected and divested of the contents of his anal glands – I left the contents at the vets and have to say that so far, I have not missed them. He is now much improved, though not quite back to normal; so no X-Rays at this stage. With many breeds this may not have been a cause for concern, but daxies are prone to back problems , so we are being extra careful.

We saw Seth Lakeman at the McMillan theatre this week. This was a solo tour so no band and none of the usual dancing and hi-jinks. The theatre is a great venue, wherever you sit, you can see! Most theatres seem not to have planned their seating this way and haven’t allowed for a tall person sitting in front of a short person. It was a ‘sitting down and listening event’; not so for some of the ladies showcasing their finest going-out Lycra, who hung over the balconies and shouted inappropriate comments. Seth had been at a gig in Totnes the previous night, and remarked that there were some strange people there. The lady next to me quipped that “there are some very strange people here”. In the interests of education I thought it necessary to point out to her that they may be strange in Totnes, but at least they are ‘posh’ strange.

Bin bag origami

Some things that make me happy are the deliciously satisfying noise as sharp dressmaking scissors sheer through fabric, dachshund cuddles and the red sticker zone in Homesense. Some thing that makes me unhappy is the current trend to fold bin bags in the manner of napkins on a 1980’s dinner table. Bin bags were once very simple, you chose between black ones, white ones, large ones and small ones. Each bin bag was simply dispensed from roll, separated from it’s relatives by a perforated line. You just pulled em off and put em in the bin. Not so now! I now need to remember the capacity of each household bin in litres, and then I can only presume that the bin bag factories have all employed the services of an origami master, advising on the most fiendish way to fold a bin bag. By the time I’ve separated, unfolded, estimated and unfolded some more, I’ve lost the energy to put it in the actual bin.  Meanwhile, in another part of the house, we have had part two of the great loft emptying. Four boxes were brought down containing a miscellany of precious items, photos (from the 80’s where I was slim, had hair and could see properly) newspaper clippings, childhood books etc. I had a short window of opportunity to look through everything before the storage facility closed for weekend. It went like this –

Me: “Oh, wow, look at this” 

Mr Williams: “You haven’t got time to look, I Just need to know if you want to keep them or not?” 

To be fair he didn’t jump from one foot to another this time and I did manage to find some of my Grandmother’s dressing table glass but I still don’t understand how I am expected to assess the importance of the box contents without looking at them!  

 This week I’ve discovered Voodoo patchwork – bear with me and all will be revealed. As you can see from the picture, the paper pieces on the back of this quilt contain the vintage papers that came with the original hexagons, chunks of the Radio times (from the 90’s), recycled business paperwork, and, best of all (where the voodoo element comes in) a large chunk of solicitors letters from the early 90’s. I put two bags of paperwork aside, in careless disregard for the draconian opening times of the storage place, planning to look at them later in the week. I went through all the paperwork, a lot of which consisted of solicitors letters between myself and the other ‘party’. It was sad in one way because it made me wonder why I hadn’t stood up for myself, why I didn’t fight more and why I didn’t call on any witnesses – but looking back on that time, my aim was simply to get away and I was happy just to have escaped. As I sorted papers into piles for recycling it occurred to me that the solicitor’s letters would be ideal for English paper piecing. I have so enjoyed stabbing a needle through them, it’s been really cathartic and as my sister said “it’s like a quilting form of a voodoo doll”. These papers are now part of the story of my quilt, proof that I have come full circle and am happy but I do so hope that the pins made their mark!