The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Chocolate Rabbit..

Ostara – the Spring Equinox, didn’t so much as roar in on Hay this morning, as float in on fat winglets of snow.  Britain is having a very cold March with not much good news in the near future and all around me I can feel people grinning and bearing, grinning and bearing – I swear if we suddenly had one hot, sunny day the whole place would burst into song, mardi gras, fiesta!

But in the mean time we practise stiffening our frigid upper lips and wait..

And in the mean time I have no problem with eating my own body weight in chocolate to help usher the Spring in – isn’t that why we do it?  Nom, nom..

Please lady, don’t make us wait much longer ..

Oh and for you Southern Hemispherians, particularly those of you in my home country of New Zealand – I wish you a happy Autumn Equinox and a long, drought busting soak 🙂

[Artwork: "Spring Equinox" by Amanda Clark of Earth Angels Art, 2011]
[Artwork: “Spring Equinox” by Amanda Clark of Earth Angels Art, 2011]


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 Solstice Everybody!

Spirit of Yule by Ann Stokes

I don’t know about you all but I am very excited..   I positively love this time of year..the middle of winter, the longest night, lovely cold weather with lights and candles and booze and food and presents and holidays and, and, and, and… Breath…

That’s better..

It has been a lovely week of socialising and getting everything sorted food wise and present wise.  I finished work yesterday and do not go back for two weeks.  When I do I will be starting an extra day a week which is a real bonus. I will just about be paying our rent and that make things a bit less tight.

Last night we spent at our friends having a little Solstice eve get together, with the weather so mild we were able to sit outside around a fire.

It does not look like we have a chance of snow for Christmas but as we had a small taste of it last weekend I am not dissapointed.  Neither are the shop keepers as everyone is able to get out and about to buy provisions and treats without nasty icy paths to manoeuvre.

It was market day today in Hay and I tried to get there a bit earlier as I thought it might be busy, and I was right.  I couldn’t get the bread I wanted and Lucretia Wood-Cole who makes and sells wonderful cakes in aid of the Women’s Institute had nearly sold out.  But I did manage to get everything else, including the most luscious runny cheese that you can only get at this time of year.  It was lovely that they had fine weather for it and everyone was in very good spirits.  Toastie had a great time taking every chance she had to snuffle at people’s market bags which must have been emitting wonderful smells.  Particularly if they had visited the  stall that sells many types of fish, fowl or beast.

As an aside – we were accosted by a visiting lady in Hay the other day who wanted to know if Toastie was a Norfolk Terrier as she had one and Toastie looked exactly like her.  We said that as The Toastilator is a rescue dog we had no idea and then rushed home to Google Image it.  Sure enough- apart from having slightly longer legs Toastie has found her tribe!

On with the story..

We trundled ourselves home with our parcels and then I set out again to have lunch with my boss/friend Sandra, and two of our trustees – Betty (our Chairwoman) and Karl (vice Chairman).  I love these people and feel very lucky to be working with them. I have to say that I never thought I would feel that way about employers!  Karl (the first Quaker I have ever met) looked completely appropriate for the occasion as he is in his eighties and has a long white beard which he topped off today with a Santa hat.

Sandra did her usual of trying to confiscate the sugar lumps so that Karl cannot put fifty million of them in his hot orange drink while Karl (who does not have diabetes) did his usual of remonstrating with Sandra for taking the Lords name in vain.  I did my usual of surreptitiously nicking the sugar lumps so that Karl can have his fill, and Sandra did her bit again by telling me off 😉

We drunk stupendously good mulled wine and I chomped my way through a frittata which included bits of turkey, bacon, little sausages and brussels sprout – I know that sounds mad but it was nom.

We ate at Booth’s Books cafe, which if you are ever passing our way you must stop and visit.  Booth’s used to belong to the King of Hay, Richard Booth, and by the time I started coming to Hay  the bookshop was a bit of a mess- damp, cold and smelling of mould.  Now it has new owners who have transformed it into the most magnificent, light, airy, warm utterly inviting space.  Spread over three floors with loads of pozzies to sit and read, it is a place you can spend hours in.  They added the cafe and are also building a small cinema which should be finished in the new year.  The food in the cafe is tasty, interesting and the menu varied every week  – it also has the  bonus of  being relatively cheap.  And the chips with aioli, and the real hot chocolate are to die for..

If you think I sound like I am happy you would be right.. Certainly compared with December last year when I had lost my job and was still incredibly home sick.  I still struggle with depression and the terrible tiredness that comes with it but I am keeping my head well up and am helping myself with the simple things – seeing friends as much as possible, walking this beautiful countryside, sharing our home with a bonkers Terrier, reading good books, immersing myself in crochet and craft, and making myself go to work – of course I’m lucky to have a job that I like.

I am deeply grateful for all that I have.. Thankful for the hard bits of life that make me appreciate all the good. Thankful for all of you..

So – the winter solstice, celebrating the return of the light, new beginnings – new challenges.  Hope you are all ok out there.

Have a Toastie time!
Have a good one - from Mr T and Miss T

No Specific Reason..

The last four days have been lovely – not for any specific reason, just lots of little reasons all piled up.

Friday, spending time with my friend Louise in her shop, and then with other friend Emanation at Booths Book Shop cafe eating spanking hot chips with garlic mayo and sipping to die for real hot chocolate.  M then came back to mine and we crocheted and talked until after 10pm when she departed and T finally got home from work.  Huge enjoyment to have company for the evening and to be treated to part of M’s life story.

Saturday was also a treat because T didn’t have to start work till 6pm so we had the whole day.  Utterly freezing out so we just had to go for a walk of course.  Took a new track that passes up the side of Hay Cemetery and then follows a stream up to common land finally returning via the path that leads to Hay car park.

I love being able to walk through the countryside like this.  The people here are really lucky to have all these right of ways and paths.

T did his good deed for the day by removing the huge sheets of ice in the sheep’s water trough.  They were so thirsty they ran up straight after and started drinking.   It was so cold that not even all the exercise over heated me and my face was going numb.  Then we had a walk up to the Co-op for supplies and home for soup and toasted sandwiches – bliss.

Sunday again very restful, ending the weekend with wine and nibbles at our friends house and a brisk walk home.

Now today – Monday, I have talked to my friend Kate in NZ, posted parcels, got a job application and done some packing.  It is so good being well.. such a novelty.  I keep thinking something really good must have happened but there is nothing specific – just being well, good-humored, not over-anxious, not tired for no reason, no crying, no dwelling on all of lives manky bits, it’s simply bloody wonderful.

Some photos:




Plaque on fallen angel grave





Hide out





Thirsty sheep



Keeping the Light Burning..


The Charge of the Goddess




The carrots were nearly frozen outside Phil The Fruit’s today.  It was snowing so hard that all his veges, and myself were covered in it.  I have never seen it snow so hard – but then I am a snow novice really.  Just about everybody around here is heartily sick of it.  The shop keepers especially, no one is going out to shop, I have never seen the town so quiet.

It maybe dark and cold outside but inside our little house is full of light, colour and is toasty.  At least once a day I have to run outside with a jug of boiling water and pour it along the frozen boiler pipe to keep the heat going but apart from that all is well.  Oh, and I have to gather up the frozen bird food containers and microwave them so the birds can eat their food.  The starlings take it in turns to sit inside the containers with their feathers fluffed up and warm their toes whilst all the time fighting off the other blighter’s who try to push in.






Tomorrow is Yule, the winter solstice on this side of the Planet.  I will be starting the day by getting up at 6am to watch the total eclipse of the moon, if the sky is clear enough of course.

We are supposed to be visiting the supermarket in Hereford in the morning to do a proper shop – but – and it is a big but – both Mr T and I have the bot and neither of us, I suspect, will feel like travelling through WEATHER to get to absolutely giant, mad shop crammed full of people panic buying.  Hmmm.. We will see.

In the afternoon I am going to my friend’s place to eat and drink nice things and give each other little Yule pressies – this will be very, very nice indeed.

I will let you know how it goes – in the mean time, hope you all have a good day tomorrow whether you are celebrating the rebirth of the light or the hight of summer.


A Mixed Bag..

I am sitting at the table in my studio/spare bedroom, watching it rain and listening to it plopping on the roof.  It’s very calming.  I was smelling the rain too, for a while – until it got too cold.  That’s something I had forgotten about the UK, you really know when autumn starts.  It’s ok though – I like the cooler weather and to be honest, there was something faintly creepy about all that lovely, sunny weather we have been having, like it twernt natural somehow.

My darling sewing machine has turned into a monster, it was going ok until I changed the cotton on the bobbin and now every time I have tried to use it the cotton jams and tangles, snarls at me until I am in despair.  It’s possibly my fault – but who’s to know?  I have heard that it cost 60 pounds to get it serviced – more that the machine cost..

So the owls and bags and everything else I want to make are sitting there in their raw state – I try not to think about it too much because it infuriates me,  I have spent so many hours trying to get the %&**£@@(*^^%% ** thing to work!

As soon as I get the funds I will buy a NEW ONE – and won’t that be grand – with all its accessories and a warranty and all that wonderful stuff.  Something to look forward too.

Another thing to look forward to is our tea chests arriving next week, YAY!!!!  Wednesday, according to the cheerful man from Cardiff, who is lucky that he was in Cardiff because I would have given him a GREAT BIG KISS  😉  I never thought I’d say it but I MISS MY STUFF.   I just can’t wait to get my hands on all my craft stuff – yarn and fleece and fabric.  Oh, it’s going to be fun!

And, of course, I haven’t told most of you yet,  I start my new job next week.  It’s only a little job, a full day Saturday and a half day every second Sunday but that is maybe all I can deal with at the moment.   It is in a clothes shop called Number 2, and it’s sister shop a little bit further down the road called Number 2 For Shoes – sooo heaven…  Both of these shops were my among my favourite haunts when we used to come to Hay on holidays – they sell clothes and shoes to die for – really.  I like the bosses and the women who work there so it should be fine.

Hay is rammed with tourists  – summer holidays of course.  It is really lovely living here and not just being on a visit – busy streets  at the moment but whenever it rains they mostly disappear, in case they melt, and you get a taste of how quiet it will be come winter.  I think I will enjoy the contrasting states.

We climbed half way up Lord Hereford’s Knob on Sunday – have some photos for you..

On the way up..
What I found on the way up
Going down
The Black Mountain
Out my studio window today