The New School Year

Oh it is nice that pretty much anytime you want to make a change there’s a New Year of some variety just around the corner to justify New Beginnings or what-have-you.

Of course, most of my changes tend to be necessitated by, ahem, long breaks in writing or posting anything. Life has got in the way; I have more than one unfinished craft project lying by the wayside, several chocolate ‘trips’ planned, and writing projects galore.

That all said, I also have ideas to revive and remould my wordy sort of blog. Not as books: I find writing reviews a bit forced. I’m a Yay or Nay sort of person, sometimes with good reason, usually none. I’m going to be changing how I write about books here, by the way.

As previously discovered, though, I have not the time in my life to maintain two blogs with many weekly posts. I seem barely to have the time for one blog with a thrice-weekly schedule. Certainly haven’t the time for that plus all the crafting required for a weekly craft post.

Instead, I have decided on a once-weekly post, with a loose schedule involving crafting (crochet and sewing), chocolate, and books.

Crafting will be as it always has been, with projects. Chocolate will be recipes and my chocolate ‘trips’ for single-origin bars. Books will be a monthly round-up of my reads, accompanied by a Yay or Nay.

We’ll see how this goes…

 

Rabbits, Blankets and Camping

Well, that was a longer break than anticipated! In the meantime, I’ve also scrapped an awful lot of what I had planned…which isn’t all that helpful, when you think about it.

However. I have managed to return to both cross stitch and crochet, though to none of my current or other planned projects.

Instead, I have started small, ish, and simple. A rabbit kit from a magazine, and a granny square baby blanket. Both just right for helping my brain make sense of the mess it has made in planning a 5-book series…

Bunny and blanket.jpg

Cream Tea

At this point in the camping proceedings, it is necessary to take a small break.

The generals are planned, the large issues ironed out: the time for the minutia has almost arrived. Before that, though,to prevent the scrambling of brains and confusions of the writer, a rest is required. Preferably accompanied by something good and wholesome to feed the little grey cells. Hard work, planning.

CreamTea.jpeg

Mark turned up at my campsite with scones, freshly made; clotted cream; and jam, raspberry. What better way to feed a brain than with cream tea!

I believe the earliest records of such a thing as a cream tea come from Tavistock Abbey, when the monks would provide their workers with fresh bread, cream and jam for mid afternoon. Scones are not, it has to be said, really a West Country delicacy. A split is more the thing for a proper cream tea. Or simply a crusty white bread roll. Nothing better.

Just remember: cream, then jam.

Camping and Carrot Cake

For the last few weeks, I’ve been feeling good about the fact that I’ve actually managed to plan, write, and schedule the week’s posts in advance. Productive, on top of things, organised, all sorts of other good and virtuous words I don’t normally apply to myself.

And then something went wrong this week. I mean, I still managed to plan, write, and schedule them, but...

But, my Friday post, about Marshmallows and chocolate tasting somehow, I still don’t know how, managed to be scheduled for last Friday. For two days before I wrote it. My writing day is Sunday, you see. I’m still surprised I didn’t get a pop-up box going “Really? You want to schedule this for THE PAST?! Have you a time-machine or something?”

However, such happened, and I managed to be so silly, and so, instead, I’m going on my camping trip with carrot cake, because I’ve already eaten the marshmallows. A carrot and mango cake, derived from the wonderful Delia’s Cake book.

CarrotCake.jpg

FNWL: North Rode Rally

Up until about Easter this year, I hadn’t driven in about six and a half years. Then, some time in the last year, I volunteered (was volunteered) to be a co-pilot on a 48-hour, 1500-mile drive around England in May. In my nearly half-century Triumph Herald.

So I had to relearn to drive. Which didn’t happen until about Easter, and the first car I drove happened to be the Herald. Around an empty Tesco carpark for half an hour. A month before the Drive.

And then I did the Drive, with a 2-hour stint in the early hours of the morning along an empty motorway (such a lovely time to be driving!), and I discovered another reason to add to the original for why I wanted a Triumph sports-car in the first place. The original reason was because they’re so pretty, particularly the Spitfires, Heralds and Vitesses. Now though, I’ve discovered I prefer driving the Herald to modern cars. The only thing I have to remember is the lack of synchromesh between first and second gear, which means you can only put it into first when at a complete standstill. Otherwise they grind horribly and Dad gets cross…

Anyway, having rediscovered my love for such pretty cars, I’ve been lusting after photos of them on eBay and wishing I had the money. Or at least the time and space for another restoration, although not such a complete strip-down and rebuild. Learnt my lesson from last time. Don’t mind stripping down for a respray, mostly because chances are I’ll want to change the colour anyway. But this is all by the by.

 

Mark is less keen on the beautiful Triumphs; he’s much more interested in American muscle-cars, which have their place, but I do have concerns with their ability to cope with windy English roads. Mind you, there was a quite fabulous Vauxhall Cresta at the rally, which probably has much the same problems.

But I still persuaded him that the North Rode Rally, advertising itself on Congleton high street with a Standard Vanguard, would be worth a trip. There would be military vehicles, which he rather likes, as well. Fortunately, he indulges me and my dreams of a Triumph of my own, and we duly set off.

Although it was quite a small rally, being just the one large field, it was an enjoyable few hours, wandering around and admiring some really beautiful cars. And not just the Triumphs (see above for the blue Vitesse and white Triumph TR2). Mark was stopped short by a Ford Mustang – the yellow and black above. And then by several of the military vehicles. And we were both amused by what appeared to be a Tractor Beauty Pageant, although only from a distance, so we’re not sure quite what was going on in the ring.

And there’s another rally in mid-September, so I’ve already marked it in my diary…

 

The Life of a Crafter

My plan for today’s post is uncertain. It says “Easter card?”.

When I was planning this revamp, and deciding what to write about and when, I decided that I have four general topics – cross-stitch, crochet, chocolate, and Life – and that each week two posts would be written. Nice theory, not sure about the execution, especially given my current, busy life. That, and, especially with the crafts, there are only so many posts which can be “Look! Look what I did – aren’t I amazeballs? Clever me to make this!”

Thus – the Life of the Crafter. This crafter, specifically, but no doubt there will be some universals which apply to all crafters.

My crafting life has been sporadic. I stitched as a child – I like hand-sewing items, more so than machine-sewing – but in fits and starts.

Pooh's Thinking Cushion

I started cross stitching in earnest about four years ago, with a Mouseloft hedgehog, and then a Winnie the Pooh and Piglet cushion cover. And that was that. I was caught.

I’ve extended my crafting repertoire to crochet since then, though my sewing machine remains sadly neglected. I have plans to change that, eventually – I received a quilting kit for my last birthday, primarily to help with cutting straight edges for cushions, but at some point I will also learn to quilt.