Springtime

In the springtime, there are few more lovely places than the English countryside. We have been getting out more, prising tablets and phones from the children’s hands and walking through fields and woods.

Bluebell WoodLast week we walked round Dumbleton Woods. I love bluebells and I love woodland. And on this particular walk, the children did not complain once, which is a first. I think some sort of a medal might be in order.

Farmland

This week our walk was more through farmland, although it did take in a couple of beautiful little villages, both of which I wouldn’t mind living in if I suddenly found myself far more affluent than I am now.

One of the villages is called Kineton, and has a very picturesque ford. I would have taken a photo, but a family was there, paddling in the water with their golden retriever and Iggle Piggle in a boat toy, and I’m not in the habit of photographing other people’s toddlers. I must go back there one day and get some photos. We might also pop into the pub, which has a rather nice looking beer garden.

Now I have to plan some more walks. It is very easy, after a busy (yet sedentary) week at work for me to just sit back and enjoy being at home. I love being at home, with no need to go out. It takes getting out, enjoying the countryside and feeling good about being active, to remind me it’s better than staying in all weekend.

 

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Art Exhibition

Yesterday we went to an art exhibition. The Artrix Centre in Bromsgrove always has an exhibition of art on display, and at the moment the featured artist is my sister in law, Claire.

Here are some of her pieces:

Picture 1Picture 2Picture 3

This is just a taster! You really have to see the work up close to appreciate the complexity. These are most definitely mixed media pieces, and each time you look you see a detail, a texture, a layer that you hadn’t seen before. These are all about texture and colour.

If you like these, and want to look at some more, visit her here.

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Summer Dress – McCalls M6557

McCalls M6557

I’ve been busy! I bought the pattern and fabric for this dress ages ago, when I happened to go into a shop and discover a half price sale on fabric. I love the 1950s full skirts and definite waistlines, so it was a great pattern for me. I looked for a fabric for the waistband as well, but there were none in the shop where I bought the main fabric.

The next time I was in the other fabric shop in town, I looked for a contrast fabric for the waist. They had no suitable pinks and no suitable greens, and I came away with half a metre of lilac fabric, which I thought was OK at first, but as time passed and I still didn’t make the dress I grew increasing unhappy with my choice. Eventually I made a special visit to Alcester to find an alternative fabric, and I came home with the green you see above.

So I made the dress. It took me a day, which at my speed is quite an impressive feat. The top is lined, so I have done my first ever lining. I have also made my first ever buttonhole!

Buttonhole

See! After owning my sewing machine, which has a perfectly good buttonhole foot and stitch settings for making them, for 15 years, I have finally put in a buttonhole. I am ridiculously pleased with it even though it wouldn’t stand close scrutiny. That’s one sewing fear conquered.

One thing I was not so happy with was the sizing. This is the third pattern in a row I have made to the size the packet tells me I need to based on my measurements that I have then had to take in. My lesson is learned! From now on I will make the size I would pick off a rack in a shop. They must put a huge amount of ease in these patterns. However, it’s fine now, and if no-one looks too closely at the inside they probably wouldn’t know.

I think I might make another dress to this pattern – possibly in a less bold fabric, so it’s more an everyday wear, and definitely in the smaller size!

All that said, I love this dress – now I just need to be invited to a garden party to have somewhere to wear it out to!

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Reading with Children

Anyone in the UK with school age children, or anyone who has had school age children in the last -oh, goodness knows how many years, will probably be familiar with the Oxford Reading Tree. It’s a great load of books. There are lots of good stories, and enough variety to satisfy anyone. Many have been released which follow the phonics systems in use now, and I am sure there are new books being written all the time. I am now very familiar, being on my third reading of some of them.

Most of the time, the books come home from school, get read, get a comment in the reading record and go back to school.

Sometimes a book comes home which makes you think about how life has changed. When you have to explain the front cover before opening the book, perhaps an update is necessary.

Book

Questions this book may raise:

What’s that? Phone boxes. I can’t remember the last time I saw one. In this book there are three all within running distance.

What’s a phonecard? I guess if you have no more phone boxes, you have no more phone cards. However, Mr 7 did understand the concept of the pre-pay card as he has experience of the Google Play store.

Why didn’t the old lady have a phone in her house? I can remember a time when I was a child when we didn’t have a phone. Back in my early childhood we moved house and had to wait until the new telephone exchange was built before getting a phone line. Nowadays I could count on my big toes the people I know who don’t have a landline. Apparently, this is becoming more usual again as people rely on mobiles rather than landlines (not surprising when it recently cost me five times as much to make a short local call on my land line as it would have on my mobile).

What’s a phone book? I don’t think Mr 7 has ever seen one in use.

Why didn’t the kids just call on their mobiles? Back in the old days…

How did the ambulance get to the house before the kids had walked back? Now that’s a whole different set of questions and answers!

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Merry Christmas!

Santa Letter

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Celebrations

Shall we flit from celebration to celebration? The last post here was at Halloween and now it is nearly Christmas. Well, what have we been doing in that time? Quite a lot and not much are two equally valid answers.

What we have had a lot of recently is pre Christmas events. Firstly, eating. I went to my first work Christmas do ever. It has just struck me that I have never, ever been out for an official work Christmas event before. I can’t quite believe it now I think about it. Surely I must have been to one at some point in that ancient history that was BC (Before Children)? But no, I’m sure not. However, back to the present (or at least very recent past).

All of us from work went out last week to Cheltenham, where we ate at Monty’s Brasserie in The George Hotel. I know nothing much of Cheltenham, considering how near we live. It’s only just over half an hour away, but I can count on my hands the number of times I’ve been there, and count on my thumbs the number of times I’ve driven there myself. The one thing that did disappoint me last week was that they’ve closed the one car park I knew how to get to. Luckily, Mr PC had planned ahead, and handed me the sat-nav with postcodes of other car parks programmed in. I am so lucky having such an organised, considerate husband!

The food, though! The food! I had a crispy duck starter which was sublime, a turbot main which was delicious, and a salted caramel desert which was heavenly, but I only managed half as I was so full of duck and turbot. Mmm. So nice to eat food we would never have at home, and actually do something social. It was a lovely evening, and also nice to see a different side of everyone I work with.

I did leave a bit earlier than most, and was home by midnight. I don’t really do late nights very well, being seriously out of practise. I could have stayed out all night and crept to a hotel at 4am, but decided not to. My own bed is lovely! But you know what? I’m already looking forward to next year.

The next thing we have been doing a lot of recently is singing. But more on that later.

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Our Halloween

PumpkinSeedsCheesy Broomsticks …and about a hundred children calling at the door. Seriously, the warm weather and lack of rain brought them all out this evening. From 5:45 to 7:15 it was a constant stream of people at the door. I’ve never known anything like it!

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