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Friday, 28 April 2017

Bits and bobs.

This week I've been finishing off things around the house, last minute painting jobs some minor repairs and finally a new fence to stop Manchee from escaping!

I've also discovered a new way to dispose of the UFO's (UnFinished Objects, as in crafts)! I've selected the knited ones that I really like and put them in my knitting basket and I've simply unpicked the rest! Job done!  Other crafts, as in sculptures, are posing a bigger problem, so they'll have to wait a bit longer.
This scarf is waiting to be knitted and is spurring me on to finish the socks and next shawl.
I can't share the socks progress as they've been unpicked for the THIRD time! There seems to be an issue with the pattern, so I'm following someone on Youtube and making my own pattern as I go.

Last weekend we took the boys to the beach. It was freezing!!! They didn't care and although Walley dived straight in, Manchee was happy to lark about with a stick :D
I don't normally like him to play with sticks, but he did have so much fun with his new found treasure,
and look! He's even dipped his feet in the water!  The tide had gone so far out that we could have walked for miles to find it, but it was just getting too cold to hang around.
The sun did come out on Monday though and Bo had a lovely sleep in the sun. I got down and cuddled him which shows a great deal of trust from him, but then he's always been my baby right from when he was born <3
Toffee and Merlin wasted no time sleeping, they had serious eating to do!
Things are moving along nicely in France, but sadly not so much in England! I've barely had anyone through the door, but that seems to be a Marketing issue! I think I may advertise the house myself, I couldn't do a worse job than my Agent!!!

Sunday, 23 April 2017

When two households merge.

When we all move to France, there will be a hectic period of introducing all our animals to each other as both myself and the boyfriend have accumulated quite a few animals over time!!!
One member of the 'brood' I've not mentioned before is Echo. She's a Boxer cross Rhodesion Ridgeback. She's a very strong character indeed and I'm not at all sure how she'll react to my 6 cats, or how they'll react to her!
In the background you can just see Murray. He's very old and we're not sure how the move will affect him, so for now, we're not really thinking about it!
 As I've mentioned before, Walley and Manchee get on really well, a bit of a bromance even!!! Walley has met some of the cats with mixed outcomes, but nothing to worry about. At the end of the day, we'll just have to allow them all to adjust slowly and try not to be too stressed about it all!
We haven't even begun to discuss ponies, as there will be seven all told and all with very strong personalities. I think things could get very interesting around here!

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Moving house or our big French Adventure.

I can finally announce that a big move is on the cards. We are moving to France :D
This is our little house and last week we signed the papers to make our dream a reality.
 The grey slate building will be run as a holiday Gite and in time we'll add a couple more rooms to our business so that I can run painting and healing courses in a secluded and peaceful setting.
Behind the barn is our land up to the distant treeline. Our horses and ponies are coming with us <3
 This little corner in the garden will be for meditation or most likely a favourite with the cats.
 At the moment it's covered in Camelia blossoms.
 Nearby is our favourite bar at Pont Samoel. Moomin enjoyed her visit and took lots of pictures of the wildlife around the lake. The bar is in the distance behind her.
 At the farthest end of the lake is a peaceful spot where I lay on a rock and meditated in the sun.
 There were a few sculptures around the lake but this one had us baffled!
 On our usual walk along the river there were so many trees down from a hurricane in March.
 We clambered and climbed our way along the path.
 Apparently it was the worst storm in over 40 years!
 Back at our headquarters I took the time to finish the Interminable shawl. There is no TV or internet and it's absolutely peaceful and perfect for getting things done.
 I'm so happy with how the shawl turned out and realised that it was so heavy to work with because I should have used worsted weight wool instead of extra chunky! No wonder my poor hands struggled with it!
I'm pleased with it though, so I've started another in the proper weight wool and it's galloping along!

So that's the start of our adventure. The next few months will fly by and we'll soon be living a new life!  In the meantime, I need to carry on clearing out and I forsee many trips to the tip!!!

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Whoops!

Two posts in one morning! Whatever next?

I forgot to mention that when I was doing my fortnightly shop, I accidentally fell into a wool shop! I needed the black and white chunky to finish the Shawl and although it's not a perfect match, it will do! I don't know how I ended up with the other wools, they were just too yummy to pass, so I guess they fell into my basket!!! (along with another set of sock needles, oh dear!).
 I then found these cute wrist warmers on Pinterest. There was no pattern but as it's crochet, I'm pretty sure I can work one out. I love them and can't wait to get started, but so many other jobs have to happen first. My kitchen looks like Gordon Ramsay had a tantrum in there, so that's first on the list and then the windows.....

Out the other side!

Last week was awful, too much to really think about honestly. I spent most of the days in bed or trying a little knitting from the sofa. At some point over the weekend I suddenly felt like I was emerging and managed to do a tiny bit of gardening and sit in the sun with my cuppa. The sun is out today and I can see just how badly my windows need cleaning. I definitely feel like I'm solar powered and the energy is beginning to come back to me :D

We had Tacos night, inspired by some of Rain's lovely recipes. Mine was the little burrito on the left as my appetite has been off and on the right was Moomins pile of tortillas with spicey beef, cheese and jalapenos. She layered it like a lasagne and then finished it off in a hot oven.
 I just had mine with some salad and sour cream. It was very, very good and comforting.
 The following night I helped make a risotto. Chorizo in red wine and stock. I love the slowness of risotto. It can't be rushed, you have to stand and nurture it to the very end, when you stir in a handful of parmesan, a few herbs and pile it into bowls. More comfort food :D
 Piper was enjoying the peace of the hot sun, but at the last minute needed to come to me for a cuddle, otherwise this would have been a gorgeous pose :D
 Yesterday wasn't so great outside, or maybe I just was feeling the need for a quiet day (again!). I decided to conquer the Interminable Shawl! I had to start the colour change early as my main wool was starting to run out and I couldn't find an exact match! That's what comes from using left overs.
I still think it will be plenty big enough, but whether it was the lulling sound of Wardruna on the stereo, or the repetitive rows, growing ever longer, I didn't finish the shawl, I fell asleep!!!
I think I'll finish it today, but as the sun is out, I'll do a little gardening first.
I have the whole new series of Walking Dead on 'Catch up', so I can see myself indulging in a little TV and knitting time later :D

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Two days wasted.

Yesterday and today, tucked up in bed with a throat infection that set of a full on fibro flare! I just haven't known what to do with myself. The only medication strong enough to help my throat simply wipes me out, so I've been laying here snoozing and reading blogs. I can't read for long though as my eyes are just too heavy. I have quite a few legal documents to go through and they can just wait until another day!!!
Lets hope tomorrow is a better day. Manchee hopes so too as he's not had a proper walk since Saturday!

Monday, 27 March 2017

Hygge (hooga)

It was my Birthday at the weekend and I was treated very well indeed :D I dropped so many hints that I was delighted to get this little Danish book, it's wonderful and all about appreciating life's happy little moments and how to create more. The bookmark was made by my lovely Moomin and is a realistic picture of Studio Ghibli's 'Kiki's Delivery Service'.
Here, I believe, I captured a perfect moment of Hygge. I'd just finished a little gardening and sat with  Bambam in the sun enjoying a lovely cup of Earl Grey <3
We went to the coast again, but the wind was wicked and very tiring.
Walley got muddy again!
But Manchee stuck to the bridge as he only likes water in the Summer!!!
Walley does love to pose and I think I'll have to paint him. There are so many great pictures to choose from though! This might be my favourite.
I got a couple of lovely Ghibli themed books, either for sketching or maybe journals. The Cat Bus is a big favourite of mine and Moomin chose a French cover for me, how sweet is she? :D
She made me several bookmarks and between her and her my lovely son I got the Poldark DVD's and a CD by Wardruna, a Viking style band. I'll be putting that on the ipod to listen to while I paint.

I also got lots of presents from my BF, but this is the one I instantly dived into. Nigel Slaters writing is as gentle and inspiring as his tv programs. Already I adore this book :D

So I have lots of good things to create Hygge and make a cosy and happy home, but even I could do with a few more candles as it seems that the Danes get through more candles per person than bacon in a year!!!



Monday, 20 March 2017

Walking at the weekend.

We had a couple of outings to the coast at the weekend. Saturday was mild but very overcast. I'm glad I made the effort to go as the boys had so much fun just running and playing together. It wasn't cold, despite that lowering sky.
Sunday was brighter, but the wind was wicked. I should have stayed in as I wasn't feeling great, but I couldn't let those boys down. They explored dark tunnels in the trees
and galloped around like crazy beasts, well, Walley did the most running. Manchee likes to stop and carefully sniff everything!
I loved the wonky signpost and if we were very energetic, we could have walked all the way to Bosham, a tiny seaside village.
The tide was mostly out and the boats sat waiting for the sea to lift them up again. Walley had vanished briefly before coming towards us at speed.
He'd been for a paddle in the mud and his legs were black with it. The smell wasn't good!
Back home, I let the ponies out for a treat on the grass. Toffee hasn't been well this week, he's had his breathing problem again due to something in his hay so a few hours of grass made him very happy. You can see how happy Merlin is to run on solid ground for a change. Their paddock is just a bit too muddy for shenanigans :D
I've completely overdone it though and so today I plan to rest and do some painting and knitting. I've even postponed the shopping trip!!!

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Grow it cook it.

My lovely BF cooked for me last night (as he so often does) and it was gorgeous.  This was just the starter, mackerel fillets over a tomato salad with french dressing (I made that bit). It was so fresh, light and delicious.  The salad has all the ingredients we can grow in our new garden, fresh herbs, shallots and tomatoes.
Murray was hoping so hard that we would drop some fish ;)
Today for lunch I had a simple tortilla filled with refried beans and cheese and because I have to use them up, a few sausage rolls from the freezer :D  Not gourmet, but still yummy and a little inspired by Ree from Pioneer Woman. Boy, does she know how to pile cheese and butter into her meals, but they do look good!

And then this arrived this morning, a lovely little book that I completely forgot I'd ordered online. I'd added it to my shopping cart a few days ago and when I clicked on something I really wanted, I accidentally bought everything in the cart.  I'm glad I did as so far I find the writing engaging and informative.
I hope it carries on in this vein, unlike the other French book I bought last year that just made me want to hurl it out the window. I don't need more stress in my life and that book seriously raised my blood pressure as the author ranted about her neighbours and the slow and uneventful way of the French culture. Why did she move there then???
In my hunger for all things French, I've discovered almost no books (in English) relating to French gardens other than ornamental gardens. I want to know about growing vegetables and being more self sufficient but so far I've not found anything close to what I want. I guess I'll have to write a book myself!  As for the title of this post, BF and myself have a 'grow it, cook it' dream and last year we did pretty well with the things he grew. I only managed soft fruits and herbs, but with more time I know I can do better. The fruits didn't go to waste as I bottled them in vodka and recently tried a drop; it's extremely pleasant :D

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Meal planning and socks!

I have been so inspired by Rain from Rains Garden to organise my poor shopping habits that I took an inventory of all the food we have in the freezer and larder.  It's not a great picture, but you get the idea.  Lots of good things, but not complete meals in themselves. I need to get the other ingredients to turn this lot into yummy meals we'll all eat.  So I made a weekly plan and then hope to expand it slowly to a fortnight plan and then eventually a monthly one.
The only issue at the moment will be buying fresh vegetables, which I have to have or I get crazy cravings like the time I ate a whole packet of cooked beetroot!!! We have a little local greengrocer nearby and when things start growing in the garden I'll have lots of salads and hopefully fruits (if I look after them better than last year!).

Why am I thinking about this, isn't it more hassle and just easier to grab things daily as we fancy them? Well, for one thing it's more expensive shopping daily as I always get seduced into buying that bargain item that sits in the fridge and slowly goes off as I don't have a use for it after all! The biggest reason though is that it wastes so much time and energy going to the supermarket that I end up feeling stressed and unable to cook anything at the end of the day.
Hopefully this will work and I find it's fun sitting and planning rather than running around and making throw together meals, or worse, we all cook seperate meals according to what we each fancy on the day. Both Moomin and her brother are pretty good at cooking so we've decided to each cook once a week for all of us, which means I get a couple of nights off :D

Meanwhile, the sock is growing, soon it will be time to turn the heel and I'll be sat watching youtube tutorials or rushing round to a friends house for her expert help.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Memories (and a menagerie in our house).

I guess I'm feeling a bit nostalgic as I think about leaving my house, the place we've called home for the last 20years.  A great many animals have shared this space with us and when I think about why I paint and create art, I guess a lot of it has to do with the things I'm surrounded by. The lovely countryside, woodlands our horses and of course my children who are now grown into young adults. Ultimately though, there have been an awful lot of animals!!!

(I appologise now for this lengthy post!)

Long before we moved here we had Max (below) and Pouncey (I can't find pictures of him on my computer) then along came Arnold below.
Both Max and Arnold lived until their 20's.
My Studio when it was new and the garden relatively uncluttered!!!
Merlin joined us and so looks like a tiny Bo! In the background is my darling horse Oliver. I still miss him sooo much.x
Then came Jubbly. What a little treasure he was. He would sit in Moomins pocket and steal cereal in the morning. Honey nut cornflakes were his favourite!
Charm was so very adorable and had many adventures escaping from the garden and visiting neighbours.
Moomin took place in an online Alice tea party and I loved seeing her in a dress without her wellies for a change.
The Moomin took to goat keeping and won a rosette at The Weald and Downland rare breeds show in 2009.<3 br="">
Our kitchen was regularly used as a craft room for Moomin and her brother.
In 2010 Manchee came to live with us. Despite looking a little nervous, he travelled well coming back from Devon and it was worth the long drive for the happiness he's given us.
In 2012 I worked for Cowdray Park Farm and inevitably brought my work home with me.  We named our little charge Button. He wasn't expected to live long but we cared for him anyway. Piper, looking extremely pregnant, was more than happy to keep an eye on our baby lamb.
He was alert and very friendly.
Manchee surprised us all with his gentle attitude to the funny new 'dog' and kept close to him often. Unfortunately we lost the battle but at least gave Button a lot of love while he was with us.

Then along came the wave of kittens. Cottons kittens were just too wonderful to even consider parting with. I was very foolish to think I'd be able to sell any!!!
I adore Fae's little paw around her mama.
Then Piper had her litter of black and whites!
Two black, two black and white and Cottons trio. It was crazy and I sold two before deciding not to part with any more.
Finn is about 6 weeks old here and almost as big as Cotton already. He's a lot bigger than her now, but then her nickname has always been 'half a cat' as she's so tiny.
Then, after working with them for so long, I got a couple of goats for myself. Here is my lovely Yarrow and her kid Bella. There is no describing the feeling of being involved with such a precious moment.
Aine we bought from a petting farm somewhere in London, I have no idea where as I was too excited to pay attention to anything other than her adorable little face.
My goats are now at the Butser Ancient Farm and I miss them terribly!

So what now???  Who knows what the road ahead will bring, but I know one thing is certain, my animals will be with me and probably a load more besides :D