Friday, 22 December 2017

Happy Christmas


Thanks for calling in.

It's always a treat to know that you are out there, popping in to the blog from time to time and to find your messages.  I really appreciate it and I've thoroughly enjoyed visiting your blogs, finding out what you've all been up to.

I'd like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and look forward  to being back again in the New Year.

Have a wonderful time whatever you might be doing.



Thursday, 21 December 2017

Gingerbread House


Thanks for popping in.

It's only a few days till Christmas now, how did that happen!  Are you all organised?

I've made some mince pies - actually, they are mince pie samosas this year.  In an attempt to cut down on the amount of saturated fat but still have some festive treats, I used filo pastry to cover the mincemeat.  Here's a link to show you how to fold the pastry. I didn't put the butter on but just a swish of oil on the top at the end and they're quite crispy. Not quite the same as the usual pies though . . .

Next up was some citrus decorations for the mantelpiece.  Slicing an orange, lemon and lime, I put them on some kitchen roll and left them for a few days to dry out which turned out so much better than putting them in the oven on a low heat.

Inspired by a gingerbread house brought back from Ashbourne in the Peak District by my Dad many years ago, each year I've made one, here's a link to an old blog post showing you what some of them looked like, including one that Miss CK designed, wel, she is an Architect.  This year it's a bit different.

It's crocheted! Ha!  It won't taste as good but there aren't so many people to eat it these days, so again a healthy choice. 

I just made up the pattern.  The body is mainly a strip of brown DK half trebles, increased on one side to give the right shape and then joined together.  A strip of half trebles made the roof, which was double crocheted on to the house.  I used white to dc the snowy lines and made a white strip  starting with a foundation chain and then a row of slip stitches interspersed with the icicles made from four chain stitches which were then slip stitched back to the foundation chain. It was sewn onto the edge of the roof strip.

It's been decorated on both sides with a spot of embroidery and a few sequins and buttons.  The glass in the Windows is plastic from a yogurt pot lid, the stitching just holds it in place.

The gingerbread house has been stuffed with polyester toy filling and I've put some cardboard in next to the front and back faces to make it more rigid, with another small piece acting as a spacer. Another half treble strip crocheted onto the frame stops the stuffing falling out.

There we are! 

You'll notice that Mr CK's wooden nativity is still awaiting Baby Jesus, who is currently hidden away in a vase!


Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Oxford at Christmas


Thanks for popping in.

For the last few years we've enjoyed a festive trip to Winchester to take in the Cathedral and Christmas Market, so we thought we'd take a train to Oxford this year for a change. 

It was a glorious day for a tour round such a beautiful city.

All the windows were twinkling in the sunshine. You are surrounded by all the beautiful College buildings, full of history . . .

. . .  and a few more modern ones.

Oxford has a small Christmas Market with the little wooden sheds filled with goodies, this year located in Broad Street and not around the Castle like last time.

As you can imagine, the large, bright shopping malls were full of Christmas cheer.

Whilst in Oxford a trip to the Natural History Museum is a must, it's so impressive. I've mentioned it before.

I love the building and this time spent time looking at their collection of rocks and minerals.  Here's a large cube of obsidian from the Magnet Mountain of Western Australia, isn't it fantastic.

Who could miss this huge specimen of iron pyrites!

Moving on, we couldn't go past Modern Art Oxford as you never know what you might find there and this visit provided quite a surprise!

Firstly, there were Woven Histories by Norwegian Artist Hannah Hyggen.  These monumental tapestries reflect the political turmoil during her lifetime (1894-1970).  She had a passionate belief in equality and was a member of the Communist Party, her political ideals being reflected in her work.  She viewed the handloom and weaving as creative labour linked to home, politics and class struggle.  She made her tapestries without help by spinning the locally sourced wool, dyeing it using local plants and weaving which must haven taken ages.  Looking at how each colour change was done was fascinating and a real labour of love.

6 October 1942 - woven in three pieces

As well as the many tapestries on display, there was a film narrated by the artist showing how she had made them and explaining the symbolism included in the works. Here's a link to the website with more photos.

A partially opened curtain, when we walked through, revealed these enormous heads which included speakers.  Swiss artist Nicholas Party has made them to acknowledge the achievements of pioneering women of Oxford.  The visitor can hear various sounds - voice, music, even a cuckoo clock - coming from the speakers within the heads.

Not what we were expecting at all!

In the Workshop Space was Common Threads to run in conjunction with the Hannah Ryggen exhibition, a place where anyone can have a go at weaving.

After a Hotel Chocolate hot 70% chocolate and a brownie, it was time to hightail it to the station and home.


Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Greys Court


Thanks for popping in.

The nice thing about Christmas is the catching up with old friends whether by cards and letters or  meeting up for a cup of tea, especially if it's in a  National Trust café.

Greys Court, not that far from Henley, is a wonderful property, packed full of history.  I've blogged about it several times when we've visited it in the Spring when all the daffodils were out or the bluebells and even the spectacular wisteria but this time the house was ready for Christmas.

Volunteers had created wonderful flower displays to augment the collections.  Calendars painted by Lady Brunner's brother, Lawrence Irving were distributed round the house, the tables set out with Christmas crackers and Christmas cards lined the fireplaces.  Stockings were hanging up in the bedrooms in the hope that Santa might call.

It really is one of those houses that you feel you could move into.

Across the immaculate lawn is the Cromwellian building which was all set for a Tudor Christmas.

The gardens were tidied up for the Winter although one little pink antirhinmum was doing quite well in a sheltered position by the wall.

We couldn't help but notice with glee all the bulbs planted in the greenhouse.

I love this property, it even has a great café and shop.


Monday, 18 December 2017

Christmas at the Lexicon


Thanks for calling in.

Are you in a festive mood? Fingers crossed you are.

Not that long ago I showed you all the celebrations for the opening of The Lexicon, a nearby shopping centre and I've been back to see what they've come up with for Christmas - of course I had to test the hot chocolate in the new Carluccios as well.

There was a lovely big tree by the steps where all the children had sat during the opening ceremony.  You should have seen the size of the baubles on the tree! Enormous.

Hanging from the wooden roofs were really unusual lights of mistletoe and holly.  Really quite large as well. Have a look.

Best of all, were the garlands of ivy.

I didn't go to the official switch on when the Snow Queen performed her magic and even created some real snow.

One day I'll be there in the dark to get the full effect, I'm usually all cosy by the fire by then though!


Friday, 15 December 2017



Thanks for visiting.

We're back at South Hill Park along with crowds of children.  They are all eager to watch the panto Beauty and the Beast and it's only 9:30 am.  The car park's all roped off for the coaches. There's a spot of excitement in the air.  I'm not there for the show though, oh no I'm not!  

Despite scooting round the park collecting fresh air, there wasn't anything particularly spectacular to share being a bit of a gloomy day.  Inside, Christmas was well on the way.

I liked the lighting and atmosphere of the new exhibition. Diana Burch's Natural Response uses every day materials such as plastic bags  to create movement, mood and shadows all lit by light therapy specialist Lumie.  The Artist suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Prints created at South Hill Park using various methods were displayed as part of the On Reflection exhibition.  I rather like this kingfisher by Mary Needham as I am always on the lookout for those colourful birds.

I wonder how the panto is going, I bet they are all having a wonderful time.


Thursday, 14 December 2017

Woolly Pincushions/Balls


Thanks for popping by.

Rummaging through my wool stash, I was glad to find some red, green and white yarn, just right for some festive crochet.  What to make though?

 How about these on the Cherry Heart blog . . . Perfect, just the ticket!

They were so quick and easy and great fun to make.  Now they are all ready to give away.

I've also joined some squares together to make a small blanket.  Voila!


Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Christmas Windows


Lovely to see you.

Carrying on with the seasonal feeling around the place, I'm taking you on a stroll round the village to have a peek in the shop Windows.  Maybe you'll get a few ideas for those last minute presents you need to buy.

It's a little bit disappointing that the vegetables don't have Christmas hats on!

You might be able to make out that half of the tinsel reindeer are inside the shop.

Down by the fire station, the traditional tree has understated lights, rather nice I think.

This plant has had berries like this for a good couple of months. So cheerful.

Here's a bit of cherry blossom already.