Guilty lie-in and Dawn French’s bottom.

The week began with a guilty lie-in; I wasn’t working and Alice didn’t need a lift to college.  Andrew had got up at the crack of dawn to begin his commute so I knew Maurice and Larry had been fed, watered and stabled.  Having taken advantage of this I was then woken by a call from an old work colleague (who I hadn’t spoken to in a couple of years) who rang me by mistake to organise that morning’s school run.  When I got downstairs there were small footprints on the cooker top.    It seemed like the cat had been having a little party in the no-go zone. I know Maurice can’t get up there (despite his Easter egg adventure suggesting otherwise) so on this occasion she couldn’t blame it on the dog.

I took Alice and Mum to Odette’s Tea Room in Wellington (via Dotty Dolly’s quilt shop) where we partook of tea and toasted tea cakes.  Alice sat in the seat that Dawn French had occupied which was very exciting as nothing much ever happenes in Wellington.  I know my daughter is classy – I know this because I have seen her drinking milkshake out of a martini glass!

My week’s holiday has been taken up with taxiiiiiiiiing, tiling the kitchen (Jamie not me), catering and quilting.  It’s been lovely to have time to do all these things.  I have also had a little multitasking exercise which wasn’t entirely productive.  On Wednesday once I’d settled the tiler in , I scooted off to Aunty Lesley to have a pedicure.  I didn’t have any flip flops with me so Lesley cannibalised a pair or slippers to enable me to drive home.  When I got home I cooked dinner whilst baking Ben’s birthday cake.  Feeling very smug and efficient I plugged in the food mixer.  This turned out not to be a good idea, particularly in light of Jamie’s last words upon leaving the house “remember not to touch the sockets”.  I had grabbed the hanging off socket to plug in the mixer, shocking myself in the process.  I had a little sit down and was disappointed that my hair hadn’t stood up as in the cartoons.

  
 The new cake receipe had only made enough mixture for one sponge so back into the kitchen to repeat the process, minus the electric shock (putting rubber gloves on to remove the plug). I picked up the caster sugar container and whilst I was STILL holding it, the canister cracked, with half falling onto my freshly painted toe nails. ‘Twas not a pretty sight in toe land and I don’t think Lesley will be wanting the slippers back.  This meant I couldn’t make the cake as there may have been glass in the sugar and I am quite fond of my family.  I don’t know why after 21 years of faithful service it chose that moment to self destruct. The worst part of the whole debacle was that I then sat down and knocked over a large glass of wine – the last drops of the very nice French wine purchased for Christmas.  This may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back as the only other wine was at room temperature. All was not lost though as Alice took pity on me and waitressed a fresh glass to me.

 
This week I have taken quilting by the horns and I am machine quilting Alice’s quilt.  She however is not as excited or scared by this as I am and merely comments that as long as it is ready for her to take to university she doesn’t care. She is speaking from experience though as she watched me take an entire decade to hand quilt Ben’s quilt.  Wendy is horrified that I am actually letting him use the quilt after all the time and care that had gone into making it it.  Surely a quilt should be used?  When I made a quilt for Mum the label specified that I wanted to see it covered in dog prints and coffee stains.  Nothing in my Mum’s house has any coffee stains or dog prints – there isn’t even any dust but you get the idea.   I am also having a little foray into using spray baste for the first time and so far so good (though areas of the floor are a little tacky still as I didn’t put down paper or towels first).  This fine chap is Angus.  We met him on Thursday evening whilst out celebrating the first born’s 21st birthday. I think he had already eaten the people at the other table.

A rarely heard ballet by Massenet.

I confess… I have problems with my walking foot.  Despite my best efforts and that of my amazing Memory Craft Machine I’m unable to machine quilt.  There should be some sort of support group for this where we sit in a circle and I can say “I’m Sam and my fabric puckers”.  Despite the best efforts of my machine, many books and advice from the wise bods in my local quilting shop I was STILL struggling.  My walking foot pushed the top layer of fabric along too fiercely and caused puckers; whilst hardly noticeable on table runners, it was definitely something I didn’t want on a quilt (unless entering a combined quilting/smocking contest). 

 

On Sunday I prepped a pile of quilt sandwiches and focused on ‘Machine quilting made easy’ by Maurine Noble.  I was determined that this would be quilt or cure time.  14″ sandwiches are a great way to experiment and also a good way to use up fabrics you no longer love without feeling guilty.  Some of this fabric came from a quilt trip to the states I made whilst Alice was still very small.  I went on an exchange trip as an embroiderer and came back a quilter with an extra suitcase full of fabric and a battered Visa card – other credit cards are available. I stayed with one lady who was a quilter who bizarrely had no time to quilt but her vast disposable income enabled her to acquire a whole storeroom full of bolts of fabric.  It was very sad as she didn’t actually do any quilting but saw the massive fabric stash as a way to get one over on her friends and stay at the top of the quilting tree.

Other pieces of my stash came from charity shops, I was trawling charity shops to feed my wooden cotton reel addition when the pope was a boy, I was bringing tatt home long before it became trendy.  I like to call it Shabby Chic but Mr W calls it Shabby Sh*t.

One metre of fabric yields about 12 X 14″ squares (I believe this is what sober people in books refer to as ‘scant’). I’m not entirely sure about the maths but once you’ve consumed the last of the wine in the Christmas stash it works out just fine; it also helps to be distracted by dancing around the kitchen to Absolute 80’s radio. I was still struggling with the puckering so Googled and happened upon the seasonedquiltmaker.com. Leslie advised reducing the foot pressure. 

By George I think I’ve cracked it!  I must confess that I’m worried that lack of foot pressure may result in lack of definition and loss of the subtle ‘puff’ of the batting/wadding – in the interests of science and my own sanity I will keep you posted. Meanwhile Maruice is in the lounge listening to the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra playing a rarely heard ballet by Massenet (as neither of my children cracked the 12 A*bracket I’m really cranking up the dog’s education).  I’m off to look at Leslie’s ‘Como se Lama’ post – monkey see monkey do (and who doesn’t like a nice lama?).

‘How can you loose Radio 4?’and ‘Can you tell what it is yet?’

It’s been a busy week here, it began with catching up with an old friend and ended with loosing a dachshund.  I will (in typical manner) begin with the entertainment at the end of the week.

I lost my dachshund, in the house, literally couldn’t find him.  I knew he wasn’t upstairs as he can’t reach the stairs and wasn’t outside as the door was closed and it has never occurred to him to avail himself of the advantageous placement of the cat flap. I had only seen dachshunds do this on ‘t’ interweb and thought they were set ups.

 
It was obviously ‘dress your dachshund as a giraffe day’ and I’d missed it.  I called Alice and once we’d stopped laughing we dug him out. There was an entire dachshund inserted in a dressing-gown sleeve. 
 

You might well look ashamed mate, it wasn’t your finest canine moment.  This is the same dog who, as I type is so close to the fire that he keeps squeaking and having to move. Unfortunately he just turns around so is stuck in a constant cycle of squeaking and moving.  

On Saturday evening we went out for supper with friends and ate at the King Alfred Inn at Burrowbridge.  For anyone who hasn’t  been there it’s a real pub tucked into the side of the River Parrett that is dog friendly, cooks with local ingredients and has real ales.  We were shown into a room at the rear of the bar and this is what we found:

  
It was excellent.  Only in this country could you sit in a room, surrounded by sand bags and continue eating whilst the water rose around you.  Actually the water didn’t move but we enjoyed the blasé Dunkirk spirit of the evening.  The food was sublime, Mr W declared it the best pub meal he’d ever eaten and we finished the evening around the log burner in the bar.

On Monday (I think) I had a surprise visit at work from an old friend.  Robbie was my boss a long time ago at Bridgwater College where we had many high jinks whilst being responsible for doling out education advice and guidance.  We’ve kept in touch and meet up occasionally.  I’ve followed her ‘Ginger Grandma’ blog for a few years so I’m always up to date with her adventures.  

I entertained Robbie with the tale of our new radio alarm clock.  We have always had a Roberts radio alarm at the side of the bed.  I think it is enshrined in English law somewhere – and verily when thou art married thou whilst only avail thyselves of Roberts alarm clocks and put asunder any other brands. Model number two had to be put out to grass as it kept loosing radio stations, I mean losing Radio 2 is one thing but as I said to Robbie “How can you loose Radio 4?”  We have just purchased number three and are not happy bunnies.  It took me 40 minutes to set the alarm; an actual 40 minutes which I know as I was watching the display on the devil clock. The A5 booklet had THREE whole pages explaining how to set the alarm, in the end I gave up and decided life was too short.  Mr W managed to set it but not before establishing that you need to have the radio on in order to set the alarm. You then need to work your way through a complicated list of commands, the day you want the alarm, which station you want, is there an ‘r’ in the month, do you shop at Waitrose? Don’t let its smiling middle of the night happy orange glow fool you – this thing is as convenient as using an enigma machine to boil water.  I have a good mind to trundle up to Mexborough (yes Mr Roberts, I know where you live) and tell him what I think of his new fangled machine.  

P.S. On Sunday it was Mum’s surprise 70th birthday party.  We hid in the Fitzhead Inn (dog friendly yeay) with the curtains closed and the lights dimmed, awaiting the arrival of the suprise guest, only to hear the barmaid greet Mum with”Are you here for the surprise party? “

Dachshund in the pantry…..

  

Symptoms of this disease are: 

  1. banging noises as the tail of the happy daxie beats a rhythm on the nearest hard surface
  2. whimpering, squealing and whining eminiating from said daxie
  3. re-arrangement of large objects on the pantry floor via the thrust of the doggie snout
  4. one less mouse in the great outdoors
  5. one more mouse in the house
  6. and finally one very smug cat sat well back having lit the touch paper by bringing the guest rodent into the house.

I could also blame the dirty bin lid on Maurice but frankly we all know that’s down to the humans in the house.