I keep my blog as a personal record of what I'm up to, which might be seen as working towards "An elegant sufficiency, content, retirement, rural quiet, friendship, books, ease and alternate labour, useful life"

I'm certainly not there yet.  There is quite some way to go!










And today I learned…


That the comments aren’t working properly on my blog.  Thank you Lesley and Marion, for emailing me to alert me to that news.  I’ve been in touch with my blog host, Squarespace, and they have engineers working on it as we speak.  In the meantime, I’ve made a slight adjustment which will hopefully resolve the immediate issue until a new, permanent fix in in place.  Please, let me know if things are still not working.




Today, I went to the hairdressers and had another reminder that September is here when I turned the corner and met a long traffic jam at the bottom of the hill.  School is back.

What a difference the school run makes to the traffic flow around here.


Children of the Autumn


Here we are in September already and I know that I’m not alone in looking fondly at those soft cashmere sweaters, the cosy slippers and wondering how soon I can reasonably think of putting the warmer duvets on our bed.  It’s not that I don’t like the warm Summer weather, just that I prefer the cooler days and a chance to snuggle in on darker evenings.  As my German friend Karin observes, “born in September and October, we are children of the Autumn”.

She’s right.




I like the cool starts to the morning, the more so if the sun gets up and brightens the day, as it did in Cheltenham on Saturday.  Not long now before those gardens will be covered in marquees and bookshops; I must set a reminder to sort out our tickets for the Literature Festival when booking opens tomorrow.




I’ve been putting one or two summer things to bed over the last couple of days.  First, my road trip journal from our Mid West adventure, which was especially hard to finish because I lingered a little too long and allowed our Irish jaunt to overlay the memories.  A good job I’d taken notes in my little book, then!




I actually created a keepsake from our Irish jolly too, but for now, I’ll keep it under wraps as it’s a little “different”.  I took my inspiration from the Waterford Charter and have had fun speaking stern words to our printer as I fed fabric to it.  I’ll share a few pics in due course, I expect Winking smile




Whilst travelling through Iowa, we dropped into the Woollen Needle and unable, it seems, to leave such a shop without making a purchase of some kind, I fell for one of the cute felt cushion/ornament.  The darker skies brought out the urge to embroider and so armed with a box of odd bits of thread and a needle, I set to work.




But as I began, I looked at my stitches in horror.  What?  Have I lost the ability to create neat, even stitches?  Of course, stitching on heavy, woollen felt it isn’t easy to keep everything looking crisp and neat, but even so…




Almost finished, it’s not at all perfect.  It looks likely to give trainee craft judges plenty to get their teeth into when the next course begins!

It also provides me with the first theme of my annual September project because, oh yes, it’s that time of the year again.  I don’t think that it’s really something new, strictly speaking, but I learned that it’s worth sticking with something, even if it isn’t quite perfect, otherwise nothing would get done, would it?


Normal life!


Back home again, life continues in a bit of a blur.  Catching up is always a bit of a challenge; getting back into the swing of things rather pleasing, in a funny kind of way.  I always come home eager to refresh and revitalise a house which has stood closed up for a couple of weeks, wanting to throw open the windows, get some air in the place and get it all shipshape again.




This time, I really couldn’t wait to open the windows, because once again, our (spare) freezer let us down.  Thankfully, it wasn’t the freezer in the kitchen, which has our main stockpile, but the fridge freezer downstairs in our storeroom, which failed earlier in the year when we were on our cruise.  As a result, it wasn’t jam-packed, thankfully.  But it did have one or two larger pieces of meat in there, plus a few other bits we’d put in there as our confidence in the repair man’s work grew.

And of course, it takes only one large joint of pork to defrost and …well, I’ll let you imagine.


The repairman is coming this morning and we’ll give it another try, but I’m loathe to put anything in it which I care about until hopefully, our confidence is (again) restored or, more likely, we replace it!


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As we drove home along the M4, I’d listened to Pete Wilson’s Sunday programme on BBC Radio  Gloucestershire on my phone and once at home, was pleased to be able to listen again on a proper radio.  A couple of weeks ago, Marion and I met Pete at the Folk Museum in Gloucester, to talk about the WI Centenary exhibition.  Though I know Pete well enough to trust him to put together something good, nevertheless, there was that small niggle in the back of my mind that I might have said something daft, incomprehensible or simply been too relaxed to put on my best performance.  You know how it is.

Thankfully, the end result was respectable!  I think Marion and I gave a good account of ourselves and hopefully, our enthusiasm came through enough to tempt people to go along and see for themselves.  I believe it’ll be possible to listen again for the next four weeks if you missed it so far (but I don’t know if that link works outside the UK, sorry).




Not all surprises on our return were nasty ones, thank goodness.  One nice one was a box of goodies from Citrus Twist following an email conversation I’d had with their owner whilst we were away.  For several years now, I’ve subscribed to a monthly kit for my Project Life from Studio Calico, who have recently changed their policies in a way I didn’t care for.  As a result, I cancelled my sub and moved my allegiance.  I’m now going to have fun with some new and fresh designs and think that perhaps SC did me a favour Winking smile


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One thing we miss whilst we are away is the occasional chatter from Edward, updating us with what’s going on in the world of our government affairs professional.  A recent source of much delight has been the publication of one of his books in Kindle format, the more so since it has been so well received.  Edward has always been a writer and enjoyed creating alternative history scenarios since he was at school, but so far, has restricted his publishing to an online forum and a few self published books for family and friends.  However, a group of like minded writers have got together and created a collection of their work and have started to market it under the Sealion Press imprint, with great results.


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OK.  I know, proud Mummy speaking here, but those rankings are pretty amazing, don’t you think?  (And not only did I not write the stonking 5* review, I didn’t pay anyone to write it either!)   Bravo Edward!




Today, I’m at home, hoping to catch up (and maybe finish?) my American Road Trip journal.  I really wanted to finish it before we overlaid those experience with Irish ones, but you know what happens to good intentions?  My only commitment this week was a meeting at Denman College yesterday, where as I sat chatting over lunch I caught sight of a(nother) familiar, friendly face.  Claire Muir was teaching her Beautiful Butterflies and of course, having caught up with the gossip, I had to go over and see what her class was up to.  Such things always make me want to come straight home and get my machine purring away…but must get those journals done first!




I’d already bumped into Janice, a GFWI colleague, who was honing her Jacobean embroidery skills in a class with Julie Walsby.  Sight of such things always reminds me of my C&G tutor’s comment regarding my own sub-optimal efforts at the technique: “not really your strong point, is it?”   Of course, Julie’s work is breathtaking and actually, that of her class pretty stunning too.




So, no time for mischief around here, then?  hmmm… Winking smile

Back in the groove, I was mulling over the clothes I tried on in the Eileen Fisher store in Chicago and one item in particular stuck in my mind.  I kind of regretted not buying a long, sleeveless shirt kind of thing, thinking that it’d be ideal as another layer in this funny, chilly weather we’ve been having.  I went to look on the .uk website to see if it was available here but as I did, my eyes fell upon something else…

Now, the internet is a wonderful thing and yes, I could have bought this lovely boiled wool sleeveless coat immediately and had it delivered to me here at home – at a price.  But friends and honorary sisters are even better, especially when their plans for the day not only include passing an Eileen Fisher store but their travel plans include coming here in the next couple of weeks.  Time zones and suchlike meant that my late afternoon web surfing worked well with Mary’s early morning online reading and within hours, the deed was done.  My pocket money spent.

Yes, indeed, life is good.

With a working freezer, it will be even better Smile


Drip drip drip




And so ended our last few hours in Dublin.  To think, we’d hardly used our umbrellas and raincoats throughout the last fifteen days – how lucky were we?




We wanted to get some fresh air this morning before setting off home though, so got all that hardly-used wet weather gear on and set off to explore a corner of the city we’d not visited previously.  This former market area had been regenerated, but sadly, progress has halted and what remains is a half hearted development awaiting new energy and presumably, new investment.




To one side was the Jameson’s distillery, which drew us in to use the facilities but on this rainy Sunday morning was of little interest to us.




We returned to the hotel through the Temple Bar, mostly quiet but with some brave souls starting the day early (or maybe finishing the night late?) 




We bade Daniel O’Connell farewell thinking we’d get a coffee somewhere nearby, but with the football supporters arriving for the match things were getting pretty busy.




Still, we walked up as far as the Post Office




took a look up the Spire before returning to pack up, jump in the car and head towards the airport.


Our flight is supposed to leave at 3.20pm, but currently there’s a delay of at least an hour and we’re sitting in the lounge watching the match.  The rain hasn’t stopped since it started and we think that it’s time to go home.

What a great trip, though!




We’d really had it with the hotel here in Enniskerry, especially after a disappointing supper last night followed by late night entertainment from the people running up and down the corridors, slamming doors.  So we were there bright and early for breakfast and a swift departure.  No point in hanging around.




We were soon on the road to Kilkenny, then.




It wasn’t the brightest of mornings but the town was waking up by the time we arrived and outside the castle, the traffic bollards were decorated in an interesting fashion which provoked us to get our cameras out and start snapping!




The castle itself was an absolute gem.  From the outside it appears dour and rather forbidding, but inside, the recent restorations have resulted in a colourful and lavishly decorated interior of just the right size.  No photographs allowed and from a quick peruse of the website it appears there are none to be found there either.  So, let me just say that each room was a delight and the picture gallery the highlight of our morning with a wonderful painted ceiling (rather like that of Windsor Castle).  What’s more, it was another venue which accepted our English Heritage membership. 




We mooched around the town centre for a while afterwards, eyeing those darkening clouds and hoping we’d stay dry.  We’ve really enjoyed exploring some of these Irish towns with their rich selection of local, individual shops and characteristic atmosphere.




Kilkenny has quite a few narrow passages such as this one, the Butter Slip.




We couldn’t leave without visiting the cathedral though.  St Mary’s stands to the edge of the town centre and a steady stream of visitors was passing through the doors.




Inside, a plain and simple structure was the perfect foil for the richly adorned altar.  Only later did we learn that the overall design had been inspired by Gloucester Cathedral.  Fascinating.




We managed to stay dry, though as we drove out on our way to Dublin, the sky didn’t look so promising.  Our plans for an afternoon out might have been compromised as the rain came in, but we were so pleased we’d decided to change our plans and head back to the city.

Happier still then, when arriving at the hotel we were greeted by the charming concierge team who welcomed us back like long lost family.  “Hey, we didn’t think we’d see you again!” Well, neither did we of course, but it sure felt good to be back.