Watching the world

Four times a year Daisy goes to have her hair done. She’s a very woolly spaniel and without grooming, she gets matted and this causes skin problems, not to mention discomfort. When she first came to us the fur on her ears was very tangled and the only way to deal with the problem was to have them clipped – it was impossible to get through the mats even with a specialist ‘rake’, and attempting to do so caused her pain. So, every 12 weeks or so I take her to Vicky, the groomer at the vets, and she is transformed from a woolly bear:


To a sleek, shiny spaniel:


Whilst Daisy is being washed and clipped, Sam and I have an hour to spend. Since, it is often raining, we have got into the habit of going to a dog-friendly pub. I buy a coffee and Sam has complimentary dog biscuits, It’s a rather nice building, with big windows that have wide, low sills – just perfect for a small dog to settle down on and watch the world go by:

Sam is happy to be entertained this way for an hour, and she usually gets some fuss from other customers, but I try to take something to occupy my time. One or two of you have received a letter that I have written in this very spot, and another one of you will be the lucky recipient of this my latest epistle. In fact, from the perspective of letters, I could do with weekly trips to catch up!

Sometimes it’s good to have time out like this… and you will notice there was a letter involved, so I’m getting over my writer’s block – hurrah!

17 for 2017 – June Update

Progress continued with some of my 17 for 2017 goals in June, and, like May, another two sets of goals were achieved. This is my progress to date:

Seventeen… Love Rocks or other little random yarny/sewn gifts. One more this month, which I’ve just sent off to the recipient. Total 7.

Sixteen… batches of homemade biscuits. I made my final batch this month, so this goal is complete.

A cheese underway

Fifteen… cheeses.  I made one lot of Bel Paese-style cheese. The total now is ten.

Fourteen… pairs of knickers. None this  month, so the total is still six.

Thirteen… mends. Target reached in May.

Twelve… letters to friends. This month, I wrote six letters – half of my target and reaching my goal. But don’t worry – if I’ve promised you a letter, you will get one since I’m on a roll now.

Eleven… new items in my Etsy shop. None this month. The total is still eight.

Ten... plants given to good homes. Target already reached in May.

Nine… games of Scrabble. None yet.

Eight… meals using only our own produce. None yet, although we’re getting closer now that we’re harvesting more.

Seven… visits to see “social media” friends. None this month (although lots of people came to visit us), so the total is still six.

No finished, but started in June – a sock

Six… Pairs of socks knitted, using at least three different patterns. I’ve started a pair this month, but it’s not finished yet, so still only one pair made

Five… book chapters written. None yet.

Four… blankets for charity; knitted or crocheted. Target completed in February.

Three… sessions in the loft, sorting out some of the accumulated ‘stuff’ up there. None yet.

Two… patterns published and on sale. No new pattern this month, so just the one published in January.

 One… gardening apron. Completed in April.
I’m feeling rather pleased with my achievements again this month – especially all the letters.
 If you have a 17 for 2017 blog post or an update on your progress, do leave a link in the comments.

Three Things Thursday: 8 June 2017

*three things that make me smile: an exercise in gratitude – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog [or Twitter account or Facebook page or diary or life in general] with the happy*

Emily of Nerd in the Brain originally created Three Things Thursday, but it’s now being hosted by Natalie of There She Goes. Anyway, here are my three things this week…

First, letter-writing. I mentioned in my  recent post Small Calm Things, that I had made a start on some letter-writing and over the past few days I’ve written quite a few. Sitting in the limery as the rain hammers down in our British summer, it’s rather nice to put pen to paper and know that I will be raising some smiles as a result of my efforts.

Second, new inks. I have a project in mind that involves alcohol inks in muted colours. Until now I only had bright colours, but this morning’s post brought me the earth tones I need, so I’m now all set for getting arty.

a new art project is on the horizon

Third, pitchers. The pitcher plants and the monkey cup in the limery are growing like mad and it does make me very happy to see them doing their job and looking so fabulous.

And if you want to see lovely pictures of some of these plants in their native habitat, check out this post from Nerd in the Brain, who recently went to visit the Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Plant Garden.

So, those are three things making me smile and that I am grateful for this week. What is making you happy?

Small calm things

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good. Clarissa Pinkola Estes

I came across this quote a while ago and saved it, thinking that I might use it in a post sometime. And, today, whilst looking at some old drafts I came across it, and thought that the time had come to share it.

After a number of recent ‘big mean things’ happening across the world, this feels like a very good time for ‘small calm things’. A few days ago I finished the cotton blanket I have been making for 60 Million Trebles (who have got two thirds of the way to their goal, reaching 40 million trebles last week), I’ve now returned to the wool and squares sent to me by Wild Daffodil earlier this year… it’s very fine yarn, so this blanket could take a while, but I am regarding every blanket that gets sent out as representing a hug to someone in need.

I’m also thinking that over the next month I will try to focus on some random (and not so random) crafts/acts of kindness. I have one gift completed to send off to a friend who is not at all well at the moment (no picture, as I want it to be a surprise), I have a partially made blanket that I want to send to a bereaved friend (again no picture to maintain the surprise), and I’ve made a start on some letter- and postcard-writing that’s long overdue.


so many letters!


I like random acts of kindness directed at strangers who I will never meet, but it’s also uplifting to do something for someone I know, allowing me to witness the positive effect of my action.

Not making cheese

I had plans for this weekend… Mr Snail is away with Sister-of-Snail, so it would be an ideal time to occupy the kitchen.


All my own work

Last week, we finally got round to tasting the cheese I made in February. I’m delighted to report that it was cheesy (well, you never know) and had a good texture. We would have liked it to be a little more mature, but we were impatient to test it in order to know whether it was worth making some more, so the mildish flavour was not unexpected. We tried it both raw and as Welsh rarebit and in both cases it was most acceptable. Waxing the surface had made it much easier to care for than if I’d allowed it to develop a natural rind, and the wax has been saved for re-use, so it is not wasted. With this success, I decided to make some more, using milk from the same source – it is unpasteurised and from Jersey cows and it has to be ordered a day or two in advance for delivery to the door. I’ve got a couple of potential sources of more local milk, but with my lack of experience, I want to get comfortable with the process using a raw product that I know has worked before. I will diversify later.



No new cheese available to show you… but here’s the original lot toasted in the form of Welsh Rarebit

So, the milk was ordered for delivery on Friday and cheese-making was planned for Saturday. However, part way through Friday morning, the telephone rang and I answered it to a very apologetic dairy farmer. Sadly, he said, the box with the milk in had been dropped at the depot so it couldn’t be delivered… would I like a refund? I assured him that I wasn’t genuinely desperate for 12 litres of milk and that I could make cheese next week, so delivery is now scheduled for next Tuesday. The lovely farmer was most grateful that I wasn’t cross (what would have been the point?) and was clearly delighted that I hadn’t cancelled the order.


My weekend has, therefore, consisted of potting up lots of plants, planting seeds, cutting down nettles to make liquid plant food, getting nettled (despite my best efforts not to) and writing letters. Yes, the plan to send out real letters is continuing… now I have decent paper and ink that is liquid (rather than a congealed blob in the bottom of the bottle), it’s not too difficult to get my fountain pen out of its box and do some real writing. If you asked for a letter, there may be one on its way to you; in fact there may be one on its way to you even if you didn’t ask for a letter! I’m always open to requests, so if you would like to receive a real, hand-written letter through the post, do let me know… it’s so much more fun than getting an e-mail after all.

And now, it’s probably time for a glass of wine and a spot of crochet… oh, the pressure!

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