Tuesday, 24 February 2015

A Weekend in the Country

We went to stay with our friend Phil in Northumberland this weekend. He took us to as many beautiful places as it was possible to fit in, fed us delicious food and took us to the pub where we met a very interesting collection of local people. Below are some of the places we saw. 
This is part of the woods he works in. We had just climbed up a very steep bank, (I nearly didn't manage it!) and the sun came out, shining through the snow and trees.
 There is the greenest moss everywhere. 
 This little house is called 'Seldom Seen', as it is hidden out of view of the road. 
 A rabbit skull from near the river in the woods. 
 On Saturday we were joined by another friend Lynne, and set off for a tour of the area. This was the first place we visited. It is called Ashgill. I was so happy to visit a waterfall that you can actually walk behind! I have always wanted to do that. It made me thirsty standing behind all that fresh water.
Some of the photos are Phil's-the ones I am in! 
 As we were driving over the fells, we saw these men in the distance. They were carrying huge birds of prey.
We stopped and were watching them, and the man below came over to talk to us. They take the birds out hunting rabbits. They are Golden Eagles, His is a female from the Czech Republic. As he talked it eyed us in the car, possibly wondering if we were edible. It was a beautiful bird. He said that there were not many rabbits to be had. He also told us they have to be careful as the eagles will take small creatures such as dogs. he also said that he has to watch out for the other eagles as they will attack each other. He then said his didn't do that though, as she was 'a pussy cat'! While he was talking I noticed he did have one rabbit in his pouch. He has an arm brace to enable him to carry the eagle. He said that at the moment she weighs about nine pounds but in the summer that will go up to about twelve.

This photo is Phil's. Look at that face!
Next we went for a walk by a beautiful river and an abandoned lead mine called Low Slitt. It started to really snow while we were there. We were all very cold at this point and the snowy wind was whipping in our faces.

On the way back I found this tiny dead vole. Phil has a frozen mole in the freezer which he said I could have, but I forgot to take it with me. I hope he keeps it for me! It is the most amazing little thing with such soft fur.
 Everywhere we went were incredible views. When we stopped here I went to the wall to take a picture and spooked this sheep. He ran at first but then stopped and gave me a bad look before walking off into the sun.
Snowy sun or sunny snow.
 This sign has been here for quite some time I would say!
The last place we visited was an abandoned fluorspar mine called Groverake. (Video of it in 1998 when it was still working although it closed shortly afterwards) I love these sort of places-abandoned industrial and atmospheric. I would not have visited it on my own as it is a classic nasty horror film setting! There was a man there taking photos. He was only wearing a thin jacket and t-shirt, no scarf, hat or gloves and it was freezing! On our walks near rivers I found lots of small pieces of fluorospar. It is a pretty purple. I have just read that Blue John stone from Derbyshire is actually fluorspar. Fluorescence is named after it as it has fluorescent properties. I have my black light torch ready to see if mine has in a minute! It works! I haven't got the photographic skills to make it show in a photo but it is good! (There is a picture on this site of polished pebbles in normal light and ultraviolet light.)

I went inside this building. It still has lockers and lots of rubbish. 

The cause of the demise of fluorspar mining here was imported stone from China. 

We are planning to go back in the summer. I want to swim in the rivers like the locals!

Sunday, 15 February 2015

''A Funny Day...

... to go to the beach'', is what the boy in Sainsbury's in New Romney said to me yesterday afternoon. We were there getting our shopping after visiting Dungeness, and he asked me if  I had had a good day. So I told him that I had because I had been to the beach. I didn't agree with his opinion of my choice of places to visit as it was a lovely day to go to the beach. We decided on a whim to go to Dungeness as we have not had a trip out for a while. We visited the RSPB sanctuary there which we have not done before. It has big windows overlooking the reservoir and power station. They have binoculars and telescopes to look through. We went in the bird hide too which is where I watched this grebe diving and resurfacing for a while. The sandy pitted track to get there was fun to drive along!
 We ate our packed lunch in the car near the beach and then went for a walk. There were lots of dead dogfish, I think I counted 11 or 12. My best find on the beach was the bone of half of the jaw of one of these fish, complete with lots of tiny sharp teeth.

 We also found two of these. We thought they were some kind of scary jelly fish but they are in fact Squid eggs.  They are called a 'mop' because of the resemblance to one. They are formed around a pebble or shell and laid on the seabed in their hundreds.
 Some old rope. No money for it but I liked the colour combination. 
 The tide was really far out and the sky and sea made beautiful pictures. 
 This old paintbrush caught my eye. I left it on the beach though in case anything was living amongst its bristles.
 When we were walking back to the car, Andy was quite far ahead of me as I was still beach combing. At one point he stopped and was holding his arm out towards me. I thought he was taking a photo then realised he was pointing. I turned to see this amazing vertical rainbow. It was brighter than it looks here.
 As we were just about to leave, this couple and their little fluffy dogs, two white and two black came plodding up the shingle. I loved the look of this group all together. They made pleasing rounded shapes and I like the dull colours with the orange carrier bag to brighten it up. I wonder if that is their poop bag?!
Love Dungeness!

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Free Motion Embroidery

My Singer sewing machine broke before Christmas-the curtain I made for the front door finished it off. Something went wrong with the bobbin holder and I couldn't fix it. It may be able to be fixed by someone else so is still here at the moment. I think I will freecycle it. Andy has very kindly bought me a new machine. It is a Janome. Not one of the computerised ones but a better machine than my broken one. I bought it specifically for doing free motion sewing. I could not get the old one to do it, as the feed dogs didn't drop and the special plate I bought didn't seem to work. When I got this one home I was so excited, but then disappointed to find it did not have a free motion foot! I was a bit annoyed at the lack of sales advice in John Lewis, as I asked the woman about the feed dogs, and said what I wanted to do, and she didn't tell me I would need to buy another foot. A bit of research and I found the one I needed for not too much money. 
The photos are to help me put the other foot back on and see how it all goes together. I do these things then forget immediately how it went. I watched videos of how to adapt your free motion foot to make it easier to see what you are sewing and to stop it bumping up and down too much but I will leave that for another day. I am just happy that it works.
I had a go of this type of sewing on Anne's machine last year and loved it. Her machine runs itself without the need for the foot pedal so that makes it extra easy to concentrate on your hands. However, I have not found it too difficult to do using the pedal. This is my first little sampler.
I then went on to this. It works best when you can get a smooth rhythm going. It is a bit like dancing. It is all going well and you are in time to the music, then suddenly you have lost it and are dancing horribly out of time. (That is my dancing anyway!)
Next came weird mushroom girl. She looked all wrong until I made her head go under the mushroom.
It is hard to do tiny pieces and areas like the face. It is like drawing but with much less control.

I am pleased with the writing. Not so sure about the face!
Next I used up some yarn ends in a random collage which I turned into a heart.
Looks a bit like rock strata. 

I have not made anything since the heart. My next thing to make is a butterfly for one of the groups in the nursery I am working at now. I also need to make a caterpillar but that will be made from pom-poms.