Monday, 29 May 2017

Devon County Show 2017

On Thursday 18th May, we went to the Devon County Show at Westpoint, Exeter. I have finally had the opportunity to go through all the photos I took and get them edited and saved. I won’t show them all here because there are too many, but it will still be a picture-rich post!

There was a huge display of poppies, a tribute to the 11,000 Devon men and women who lost their lives in the First World War. They were made of any material as long as it was not paper, and most of them were knitted or crocheted, and there were some made of lace and felt.

12 Poppies - Lest We Forget

This wreath was made from recycled Coca-cola tins!

05 Poppy Wreath Made from Coke Cans

4 Poppy Pictures

2 Poppy Pictures

I learnt something new – that purple poppies are a memorial to all the animals that were killed in the course of war. Purple poppies featured in this display, too.

14 Horse with Purple Poppies

A prize-winning display at the show was put on by Lifton Farm Shop, in the theme of Shaun the Sheep. All the sheep’s bodies were made of cauliflowers! The display was so imaginative and fun, and everyone loved it.

21 Lifton Farm Shop 6 Shaun

The house was covered with potatoes (with ones with pink skins around the windows) and the garden path was made of onions.

23 Lifton Farm Shop 8 Sign and House

There were some fun sheep – here is one sunbathing in a deckchair. Note the sun cream and cocktail close at hand.

22 Lifton Farm Shop 7 Sunbathing

Here’s the farmer. I like the sign at the bottom!

24 Lifton Farm Shop 9 Farmer

Sheep shearing.

27 Lifton Farm Shop 12 Shearing

Here are some ladies, knitting and having their hair done.

28 Lifton Farm Shop 13 Ladies

Mutton dressed as lamb.

34 Lifton Farm Shop 19 Mutton Dressed as Lamb

There was the usual fantastic display of floral arrangements, on different themes, one of which was “pas de deux,” a ballet theme.

42 Ballerina Floral Display

43 Pas de Deux Floral Display 2

I loved this “triptych” of calla lilies. It won a prize.

38 Calla Lilies Triptych Display

A large display of pitcher plants and other carnivorous plants. I have always found these very exotic and fascinating.

47 Carnivorous Plants

We found a textile art student from Bicton College, making felt, and she allowed me to photograph her project book. Here are a couple of pages.

53 Student's Textile Project Book 1

56 Student's Textile Project Book 4

There was quite a large display of lace making.

62 Lace Making

60 Lace Parasol

61 Lace and Poppies

In the spinners’ booth there was a good display.

64 Spinning Display

My hubby learning how to hand-spin (not!).

65a N with Spinning Demonstrator

The Bonsire man was there again, and I always promise to post photos of his work on my blog! He makes the most exquisite miniature bonsai trees from wire.

67 Bonsire

67a Bonsire Display

67b Framed Silver Bonsire Tree with Roots

The usual very high standard of work in the blacksmithing booth.

69 Metalwork - Fire Grate

71 Metalwork - Pokers

76 Metalwork - Mirror Frame

77 Metalwork - Gingko Leaves

This intriguing piece had different leaves around the base – ivy, oak, hazel.

81 Small Wood Burner

It always amazes me that such fluid, organic shapes can be formed from a material so hard and unyielding.

While wandering around, we came across this eatery with very pretty Indian parasols. I’d love to have bought one but they were too expensive!

85 Indian Parasols

The Queen Bee herself, at the entrance to the beekeeping tent.

90 Queen Bee at Entrance to Beekeeping Tent

Some natural honeycomb. This is what the bees will make without a frame in the hive.

89 Natural Honeycomb on Crown Board

I bought some beeswax polish and some very special heather honey.

Here is a prize-winning hand-painted plate.

94 Painted Plate

Judging the eggs! Not sure what makes one egg better than another!

95 Eggs

There was even a display of posh jellies being judged.

96 Jellies

A fascinating spherical sculpture made entirely of horseshoes.

98 Seahorse Sculpture

The usual displays of small animals.

99 Rabbit

This year we didn’t get to see many of the farm animals, but we did visit the angora goats. Look at that billie’s magnificent horns, and the kids were really cute.

103 Alpaca Goats and Kids

The Corrymore goats always carry off prizes. I always want to visit that tent, because I can stock up on new Corrymore socks, made from their fleece. They are quite simply the best socks I’ve ever had – I have a whole drawer-full and never wear anything else! They come in lots of colours (and different styles too) and they are very hard wearing (I’ve had my original ones for years and years), and wash very well, and they are cool in summer and warm in winter.

As we were leaving, we were held up by what seemed to be an interminable parade of tractors of all vintages. They varied a lot in size and complexity. One thing they all had in common was that they smelt! The smell of exhaust became very unpleasant after a while, and I was glad of a lull in the cavalcade so that we could cross over and return to the car. You can see from this photo that it had started to rain by this point. The rest of the day was fine and sunny, but we did get a bit wet towards the end, and my buggy battery started giving out so my poor hubby had to keep pushing me as we limped our way back to the car!

107 Tractor Parade 4

I did some great shopping, and we had a very good salad lunch, but some aspects were disappointing because we didn’t manage to see many animals, and both the carriage driving and the show jumping were just finishing when we arrived on the scene, which was a bit of a shame. It’s the only time one ever gets to see this sort of thing, and the horses and riders are always so beautifully turned out, and it’s lovely to see anything done really well.

My hubby said he probably wouldn’t bother to go to the show if I didn’t love it so much (although he always enjoys it while we are there) – he is very good to me, taking me to nice places and giving me treats! He gets the buggy and the wheelchair in and out of the car and pushes me when necessary. I would be well and truly stuck at home if it wasn’t for him! The following day was his birthday, and I think he had a nice birthday treat at the show.

We finished the day with my hubby’s brothers and their wives, having a well-earned slap-up Chinese takeaway. Delicious! Altogether, a great day out, as always. The County Show is something I always try not to miss!

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Various Updates

Kitties

Nicholas with Phoebe and Beatrice 2 2009

Since losing Phoebe on Wednesday, Beatrice has been very subdued and is obviously missing her. She spent the first day looking for her in the garden and wouldn’t come in, and since then, she’s been sleeping in Phoebe’s favourite place under the hedge in the corner of the lawn, somewhere she never went before. It’s as if she’s hoping she’ll come back to claim it. Today she seems a bit better and has accepted cuddles from us, but she wasn’t so keen yesterday. We are trying to give her as much love, attention and reassurance as we can at the moment, until she gets used to the idea that Phoebe has gone and isn’t coming back. Seeing her obviously grieving is quite distressing – we are both missing her so much, too.

Beatrice with Paperclip 1 19 Oct 10

Oncology Appointment

On Thursday morning I had my six-monthly oncology check-up appointment. I saw a different consultant this time, who said she was helping my regular one at the moment – she was called Dr. Medley and she was very charming and pleasant. My bloods are good, with no cancer markers. I asked her if they had the results of my recent CT scan yet, and she said they did, and that it didn’t reveal a hernia as such, but that there was a little gap and some fat had come through (nice!) but no gut. She will be setting up another appointment for me to see Mr. Pullan, my surgeon, so that we can discuss pros and cons, and risks involved in either having further surgery or not. Now I have got the support garments, he may feel it would be better just to leave it. I certainly don’t want another obstruction, and I’d rather have planned surgery rather than another emergency operation.

She also said that the recent CT scan showed no cancer, but of course it was only of my abdomen, and they would have preferred it to be of my whole trunk, because metastases from bowel cancer are usually in the liver or lung, so she is going to book me in for another scan, which will probably take place in a couple of months’ time.

I have got to go back in 6 months, and the appointment is on 30th November, exactly 2 years on from when I was given the all clear. After this, all continuing to be well, they won’t want to see me for a year. I really do believe they got it all out, and the chemo put paid to anything else that might have been lurking around.

Diet

It is now nearly 3 years since I started my 5:2 diet, also known as the Fast Diet. This diet has really worked for me, because for most of the time you eat normally, and only restrict your intake to a maximum of 500 calories on 2 days of the week. This means that it is easy to stick to, because anyone can cope with 2 days – it’s the diets where you are constantly restricting yourself and never having any treats, that you get bored with and give up, and the weight piles back on again. With a little help from 2 major operations and hospital stays, and despite being stuffed with mammoth portions by my hubby while he was looking after me (haha!), during that time I have lost nearly 4 stone. I need to lose just over half a stone more, in order to reach my target weight, and after that I shall continue monitoring it, and having a fast day maybe once or twice a week as necessary in order to maintain a constant weight.

People are now constantly noticing that I’ve lost weight. I am now able to get into clothes that I haven’t worn for years, which I couldn’t bear to part with because I liked them! It’s like having a new wardrobe again. I feel very much better for having lost the weight, not just physically, but emotionally too – having a sense of achievement is a very positive thing.

This is me, taken in the summer of 2013. I think I probably gained some more weight after this, and after our holiday in 2014 I was shocked how much I weighed, which is when I started the diet.

16 On the Balcony

Latest selfie.

27-5-17

A definite improvement I think! Unfortunately I shall probably never have a flat stomach again – after three major abdominal operations over the past 20 years (2 in the last 2 years) the muscle tone is pretty much gone! Having the support garments to prevent the return of my parastomal hernia probably help, though.

Kitchen

09 Ventilator Plaster Completed

The carpenter came round on Wednesday evening as arranged, and had a good look, and saw my sketch, and got a good idea of what I wanted. He was pleased that I still had the original Howden’s computer designs for the kitchen on my computer, and I was able to tell him the name of the design, which they have unfortunately discontinued from their catalogue, but he said he could probably source some old stock to make up the doors for my new pantry. If not, we agreed that it would be better to use something completely different rather than something similar but not exactly the same. After all, the original cupboard had white panelled doors, and we could do likewise with the new ones.

He said it would be no problem at all to get a bit more of the laminate flooring, which is still in Howden’s catalogue, and that he would be able to fit that. He will also add a new skirting board inside the cupboard, to match the rest of the kitchen.

He isn’t quite certain how to deal with the top part yet but he will be giving it some thought.

When I suggested adjustable height shelves, he said there wasn’t often much point, because one never adjusted them! However, he took the point that until I start using the pantry, I shan’t know exactly how high I want them, and it would be frustrating if I couldn’t get certain things in where I wanted them. I said that if they were only adjusted once, it was still worth it! I said that I wanted a stone slab, and this, and the shelf level with it to the side, would obviously have to be fixed in order to support the weight, but the others could be mounted on tracks with brackets and it wouldn’t be a problem. He suggested making each back shelf and its corresponding side shelf as one, so that it would be easier to adjust them together, and it would also make them stronger.

Regarding the doors, he agreed that the wall-mounted unit on the wall to the right is a bit of a problem, and I said I definitely didn’t want to lose that, as it held the glasses and all my recipe books. He thought that rather than having bi-fold doors, it might be better to have a single door, slightly narrower than the opening, and have a narrow panel to the right, behind the wall-mounted cupboard. He said he could install small shelves on the inside of this which would give me a bit more storage space, too. He thought that mounting my spice rack and other compact things on the right-hand wall inside the pantry was a good idea. The shelves at the back of the pantry, above and below the stone slab, will be deeper than the ones at the side, but they won’t be as deep as they were in the original cupboard, which was hopeless because I could never get at the stuff at the back.

It is all coming together now, and I think I am going to end up with a brilliant space which is going to be usable, convenient, and fun. Bringing the front up to the level of the front of the oven is going to give me double the depth I had before, but with narrow shelves along the left-hand wall from top to bottom, as well as better shelves at the back, will give me more storage space than I had before, which will also be a lot more accessible. As it was, the space in front of the old cupboard was dead space, and this is now going to be used.

Consulting his diary, he thought he should be able to start in the middle of next month, which is only about 3 weeks away, which is very good news. I thought I might have to wait for months until he was free! He’s got a kitchen to fit after that, but doesn’t think my job will take more than a few days (worst case scenario a week, but he thinks that is highly unlikely) – he says it’s a fairly fiddly job but it certainly shouldn’t take too long. So hopefully it will be in before the end of June!

I am really looking forward to moving all my stuff back from the flat kitchen, and sorting my new pantry, and organising the storage of the food. Once this is done, I will be able to start using my lovely kitchen again. The flat kitchen is fine, but it is very small, so I can’t do anything very ambitious in there. We are very grateful for it, though, because most people whose kitchens are out of order have to resort to camping stoves, and washing up in the bath!!

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

WOYWW 416

A general view of my desk this week.

WOYWW 416 24-5-17 Gen View

Far left, on my cutting machine: my ongoing Infusions mini-album project, and beside it, the gorgeous little pincushion Lunch Lady Jan made for me one year. In front of the cutting machine, the spares and rejects from the Infusions project. Some spare flowers on top of my black gesso, and the little purple thing beside that is the wrist band I had to wear for the two-day conference I went on last week – I thought it was paper till I tried to rip it, and then realised it must be Tyvek so it’s up on my desk waiting to be melted experimentally! Working along the back of the desk, some toilet roll centres painted with black gesso (spares from the Infusions project) and two glass bowls with coffee and tea in them which were used for the card in the centre of the desk. The usual detritus of inky/painty kitchen roll, scissors, glue, heat gun, paintbrushes, my signature dirty paint water etc. etc.

Here’s a detail shot of the desk.

WOYWW 416 Desk

Today is our 31st wedding anniversary and I made my hubby and this the card I made for my hubby last night. You can read all about it and see the photos on my previous post below this.

26 Completed Card

In case you didn’t see it last week (I only just snuck into WOYWW last week before I turned into a pumpkin), this is the card I made for his birthday last week.

17 Finished Card

Last week was incredibly busy and I really overdid things, but everything I did was tremendous fun (apart from the blood test and the scan) so it was worth all the payback I got – I had 2 very bad ME days as a result, crashed out on the recliner on Saturday and again on Monday, when I couldn’t do anything except watch TV and Youtube, but the latter inspired me to make my hubby’s anniversary card! I am much better now, and trying to catch up. My apologies for taking so long to reply to all your lovely comments last week – I am still working on these! – and for not visiting many desks.

I attended a two-day Christian conference on Tuesday and Wednesday of last week, all day and evening, and then on Thursday we went to the County Show – I haven’t had a chance to edit my photos of that day yet, but once I do, I shall do my usual annual post about one of my most enjoyable days out each year! We had great fun and I did some nice shopping too, and we had a lovely Chinese takeaway with family afterwards – a great day! I was very busy the following day, which was my hubby’s birthday, so we treated Thursday as his birthday celebration instead. Last Sunday I sang a solo in church and am due to do another one this coming Sunday. All last week I had a cold which really didn’t help things much, but at least it didn’t stop me singing!!

Kitchen

At last things are progressing on the kitchen front. I have got the carpenter coming to see me this evening to decide what to do about the walk-in pantry. Our neighbour Gary has finished fitting the ventilator and blocking up the old one, and plastered everything over. I was amused that two people reading my blog said they wanted to use the photos of the work as a basis for art work – here are some more!! Fun patterns and textures in the plaster work.

10 Top Ventilator Plaster Detail

12 Top Ventilator Plaster Drying

13 Small Pits Plastered Detail

Here is the new ventilator.

11 Bottom Ventilator Detail

Hopefully the carpenter won’t be too booked up for weeks ahead, and will be able to make a start soon. I can’t wait to get back into my kitchen.

Phoebe

Phoebe in Fruit Basket 10 Mar 04

Very sad news. Yesterday my hubby took her to the vet for the last time, and brought back her little body and buried it in the garden. She had had bowel cancer for a while, and we’d been keeping her going as best as possible, knowing that the time would come eventually. She had been eating fairly well lately but continuing to lose weight and it seemed that she was unable to absorb the nutrients from her food. She started to be sick again on and off, and then for the last couple of days she was clearly fading, just flopping around and seeming very subdued. She was very clingy and needing lots of love. She spent her last day on the concrete path outside the back door with Beatrice, lying in the warm sun, what she enjoyed doing the most.

We are going to miss this sweet kitty so much. Like all of them, she had her own unique little foibles and ways, and endearing habits. She lived with us for nearly 14 years and we gave her a very good life with a happy home, good food, lots of love, and good care through all her health problems which included epilepsy over the past couple of years.

Here is my favourite picture of her with her sister Chloe, who was killed on the road outside our old house.

Phoebe and Chloe Vignette 2-7-04

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