it’s great being back..

One of the first things I noticed when we arrived at our new home in Hay-on-Wye, just over two months ago, was this stone doorstop covered in a crochet cozy by my dear friend Em who had found us this flat in the first place.

It is always a bit worrying when you rent a place sight unseen and although the flat has a few small downsides it has turned out to be a great, little bolt hole.

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And it is wonderful to be back in Hay!  Really so good.  We arrived back to a spectacular autumn, warm and beautiful.  Our house lacks a garden so we have to walk our dogs a lot and we have visited quite a few of our old haunts, up on the Begwns (where it is possible to see all of the Brecon Beacons National Park from the roundabout at the top), Cusop Dingle where I was happy to greet my favourite, majestic Copper Beech, and the castle at Clun on the way up to Montgomery.We live close to the Wye River so that is the default walk of the day.

 

Two months has been enough for the weather to slide into winter and so far we have had one furious storm and yesterday and today the temperatures have dropped to well below zero and even though the sky is clear blue and sunny  the frost stays on the ground all day.

Our flat is in an old, stone building that used to be the work house, it has massive thick walls and is amazingly warm so that even though it is minus 5 outside I don’t need to have the heating on.  I was not best pleased to hear of the buildings horrible history when I got here but I like to think that we will be adding some happier atmosphere to it, besides Em tells me she smudged the place before we moved in to clear any negative energy and whether the smoke helped or not it’s the intention that matters.

Mr T is working back in his old job and has found a welcoming chess club based in a pub in Presteigne, not far from his work.  I am back making things to sell and consciously working on keeping the Black Slug of depression at bay, which is made easier by good friends, beautiful surroundings, our lovely dogs who need lots of walks in the fresh air and it’s nearly Yule!!

This weekend the Christmas lights were turned on on Friday night and that plus the Hay Winter Festival, Food Festival on Saturday, Vintage Market on Sunday meant that the town was full of happy wanderers even more so that usual.

It is lovely living here, we are so very lucky..

 

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There and back again..

It’s been quiet on the blog this past week because I caught a ride down to Stokes Valley with a friend to go and spend some time with my Mum.  Ma is 88 and in need of some company as well as help around the house and with life in general.  I usually stay every second week with her and Mr T stays with her during the week as he works not far away in Wellington.  In fact Mum is the main reason we came to live back in New Zealand last year and we are really glad we did.

The way we live is working out pretty well at the moment.  I still struggle with the Black Slug depression and appreciate the week when I am in my own home and can hibernate with Toastie if I need to, or get some craft done if I have the energy and concentration.  If I am still not feeling too good when I go down to Ma’s it’s ok because Ma is not a huge bundle of energy now either and we can sit and talk while I crochet and she knits and we watch silly comedies on T.V. together – or murder mysteries..

Last week I was most proud of myself because I finished two jobs that I have been meaning to do for years.  Just before we went to live in the U.K. four years ago, my friend Vicky gave me an unusual old sewing basket.  I loved it very much, especially because it was made from harakeke or New Zealand flax.  This basket was woven in strips and sewn together with red thread.

Unfortunately most of the thread holding the wooden bottom on had come adrift as had one corner of the lid.  Last Monday night I had a sudden rush of blood to the head and mended it.. Finally after four years..

The other project I finished the same night was from the Alabama Chanin Stitch book – The Over-the-Arm Pin Cushion which I started two years ago.  I am over the moon to have finished it and be using it.  Even my Mum liked it and now I am making one for her for Mothers Day next weekend.

Mended sewing basket with original spotted lining, so cute.
Mended sewing basket with original spotted lining, so cute.
Over-the-arm
Over-the-arm pin cushion in use

My other creation of the last fortnight was already mostly made for me.  My friend Donna had given me an old, crocheted, stained glass, granny square lap blanket that was falling apart.  In fact she gave it to me in bits as she had neither the time or energy to deal with it.  I didn’t fancy a lap blanket and seeing that one of the pieces was scarf length and a decent width I thought a better use would be to fix the shredding seams, stitch a single crochet border around it and add a loopy chain edging on each end.  Job done and I have a new, rather cheerful, favourite scarf.

Just in time for winter..
Just in time for winter..

Ma’s feijoa trees are overflowing at the moment – it seems to have been a bumper year for the fruit.  She has to rake them up every day and there are way more than any of us needed or wanted to preserve so we came up with this idea so as not to waste them..

They didn’t take long to go.

Ah - the sweet, green grenades..
Ah – the sweet, green grenades..

So that was some of my week – I hope you all had a good one.

 

All good things..

Today is grey and cold, a suitable day to mourn what proved  to be a lovely, long weekend.  I am not feeling so great today so here is a selection of photos to take the place of brain draining writing.

Sunday – Henley Lake

A quick game of Dangle the Dog
A quick game of Dangle the Dog
Then another game of Watery Stick
Then another game of Watery Stick

More Watery Stick please!

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The Jumping game
Trees deserve close ups too

Then home to prepare and slow cook a Beef Bourguignon, hearty Autumnal fare for sure.

 

 

Monday

The coast road out to Cape Palliser, about an hour and a half from where we live.  Seals and shags and sun.   Picnic on the beach with inquisitive Bumble Bees.  Hot, metallic, autumn sun.  Wrecked crayfish carapaces, flat, warm, grey stone and tiny baby paua.

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P1030377 P1030407So clear you can see the South Island – The Kaikoura Coast with snow on the mountains.P1030387P1030396
P1030400Time to start the long road home as the shadows lengthened and the air began to cool.  Second night of Beef Bourguignon – always tastes better for sitting, with carrot and swede mash.  Tired Toasty and tired humans, these holidays sure take it out of you.

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Easter Saturday..

It’s been a lovely couple of days.

Mr T came home early on Thursday and has the whole Easter weekend off with a late start on Tuesday morning so he is pretty happy.  Even though his presence Thursday evening meant he had to join with my Stitch and Bitch group.  He seemed to enjoy himself anyway, just him and five women.

I love our Stitch and Bitch.  We are not good at having a bitch at all, mostly we laugh and talk about anything and every thing.  We always have supper, bikkies and cake and I so enjoy getting my old china cups and saucers and cake plates out to get used.  Mr T however was allowed to use a mug because my tea cups were too small for his giant man hands.

I felt very low energy on Friday so after walking Toastie we had a mammoth t.v. session – the latest series of Endeavour, Moone Boy (if you haven’t heard of this Google it – it’s brill), The Hairy Bikers in Asia and Blandings.

Today started with a trip to the New Rags Craft Market at the Town Hall. There were lots of local Wairarapa crafts people and I spent a lot of time talking with friends both stall holders and customers like myself.   I couldn’t leave without purchasing a few wonderful things, a old framed jigsaw and a china sugar bowl.  The camel pin cushion came from the previous Christmas New Rags Market.

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After the market we had a big walk around Henley Lake so Toastie could have a free run and a swim in the river.  She had been in disgrace because she had found the pastrami for our lunch, which we had foolishly left in the back of the car while we were shopping, and had hogged the lot.  I told her that she would be sick but all that happened was she drunk a hell of a lot of water – the Ratbag..

This evening is going to be another quiet one, with more T.V. time I think, and crochet on the side of course. So cozy now it’s getting dark much earlier..

It is raining and cold.  After two summers in a row it is still quite a novelty.  I am not complaining, I like it.  I have discovered I am not a fan of hot weather, high temperatures become a bit of an ordeal after a while.

Enough of the weather..

Tonight I am hosting Stitch and Bitch and shortly I will have to fettle my tiny house which should not take long, unless I get sidetracked, which is entirely possible.  In fact I think that is why I am writing this blog for the first time in six months or so.  Amazing what the threat of housework can do.

I have added to my housewifely tasks by scattering winter accessories around our living space.  This is because when I opened the wardrobe out in the shed (the house is too small to house all my crap) there was a distinct smell of mould from the shelved clothing within.  I extracted the most likely culprit, a plastic bag full of crocheted mitts, scarves etc and liberally strewed them around the living area to air.

Now I have to find a place inside to put them..

We have lived in this house before about eight years ago, but I don’t remember having this much trouble finding space for my stuff – obviously I have a lot more stuff.  Lucky we are moving then.  To somewhere bigger and a lot less ramshackle as well.

Don’t get me wrong, I do love this place, built about a hundred and thirty years ago which is old for a New Zealand house,  it’s cute, it has character, it’s very ramshackledness makes it weirdly comfortable.  It has that atmosphere of calm that old houses often have.

But I am over the smallness of it plus it badly needs maintenance (like repiling)  to keep it from sliding into dereliction, which we can’t afford.  Our landlady wants to sell it – always a good reason to move. So hopefully it will find a more financial owner to love it.

Go well lovely sheltering cottage..

The ramshackle house
The tumbledown cottage, painted years ago by ourselves and I still love it.

ahem..

So my friend Yvonne said to me on the phone a couple of months ago “Please update your blog” – I agreed and then proceeded to procrastinate with a vengeance…

It is far to scary to attempt to recount all that  I’ve been up to in the many months since I last posted so I am just going to start with the here and now..

Out my window as I am writing..

The view out my window is lovely and green – that is because we have had eleventy million litres of rain bucketing out of the sky all summer.  Believe me this is only a slight exaggeration.  Now normally I like rain – specially heavy rain, but I like it to be appropriately cool – rain and cold, they go together don’t they?  Instead we have had rain and hot – so sweaty hot that the obligatory walk with the dogs ends up with me as wet as they because it is far to warm to wear a coat.  I hate that.

The other small thing of note in the photo is the surprisingly lovely and incredibly long lived pom pom flowers which grew from our neglected leek plants.  Well worth growing just for the flowers.

The last thing I note from this photo is the card celebrating the 1st of August – Lammas, the first harvest festival. We have had so little sun it seems a bit of a swizz that we are already on our way back into the dark half of the year.  Ah well, at least I will get the cold as well as the rain that I am moaning about.

This morning I spoke to my Mum in New Zealand for about an hour.  She told me about her week – playing bowls, outings with friends, her renewed interest in Coronation St  (oh yuck) and I told her about the amazingly wonderful effects of HRT that I have finally twisted my GPs arm into prescribing.  I feel like a ‘normal’ person again, truly incredible and I wish so much that I could have started taking them years ago.

I did do some research before swallowing the first pill – and amongst it all I found this article from the New York Times really interesting if you are trying to make your mind up about it yourself.

The rest of my day has been filled with house work, walking the dogs (one Toastie and one visiting aged and quite lovably stupid Springer Spaniel named Alfred, whose elderly owners are both in hospital.

Alfie the Great

My other job of the day has been to revive my Etsy shop and start to list some of my new creations.  Not that I think that anyone will actually buy them but more that I have to justify continually making new ones and purchasing the yarn to make them.

Also – a couple of months ago I committed to go to Rome for four days the last week in September with some friends and the trip has worked out to be a lot more expensive than I expected. As Mr T did not want to come and I am spending vast amounts I need to show willing and at least try so sell some of my wares.

Here are the ones I listed today..  They are great fun to make – partly because I am not using any pattern so there are no rules and I get to use whatever yarn I want, including strips of tee shirt.

Also they look good on me so they will look good on anyone!

New ragged scarf

That is my day so far – I am off now to feed my furry friends and settle down for my currant fave True Blood and a little hooking.. Have a good one all..

Happy Samhain all..

 

And happy Beltane to those on the other side of the world..

Our clocks changed at the weekend and this evening while out walking Toastie and admiring the neighbourhood pumpkins I realised that if I didn’t move my ass I would be walking in the dark.  Sure enough it was full dark shortly after we got home at 5.20.

Although we have been having some gloomy days we have been blessed by incredible autumn colours.  Everywhere there are fiery glowing trees.  I walk in wonder..

Tonight is All Hallows Eve/ Halloween/Samhain.  A night to remember the dead and to light fire.

Lighting our Samhain fire

 

Lighting candles for the dead - among them my Father, I miss you Dad..

 

 

 

And the wheel turns..