Wednesday, 28 July 2010

... and then to the farm ...

excited girl feeding the deer and the llama

We fed the Llama and deer on entering the farm and later some goats. Imogen loved holding the pellets in her hand for them to be licked off which tickled.

Feeding the male Llama (more on him later!)
Feeding the Deer

Imogen had great fun in the park and made a friend who we'd met when having lunch, they had a great time together. She went to see the rabbits and guinea pigs several times and we helped out with the milk bottles to the calves.

Donkey and baby

We saw lots of different animals, including a baby donkey with it's parents. More goats, sheep, pigs, alpaca, chickens, turkeys and probably some more animals.

Hot colours in the flowers, and a hot little girl

We visited the walled garden and the maze, where it was getting very hot and sunny, almost time to go home.

Ever the one for keeping my eyes open, whilst around the farm, I spotted bags of fleece in one of the barns and found a lovely man to ask what happens to them (well you have to don't you?). The wool fleece from the sheep was awaiting pickup from the Wool Board, although they didn't turn up last year ... so I may call them when I need more to see if they still have it. They also had a big bag of alpaca and llama fleece which the wool board don't collect so he bagged some up for me, leaving some for the spinning guild that they have visit there for demonstrations.

Alpaca fleeceLlama fleece (from the male llama Imogen is feeding here and above)

There was also another bag which of fleece which he said was a bit messy and needed a lot of teasing - it does, and some bits are a bit felted. But it's angora goats fleece, so I was tempted and he said I could have it. It's lovely and long and curly and has such a lustre. Mind you the goats it came off are lovely too, much admired on previous visits.

Angora fleece bag
close up below - look at those curls and lustre
The Angora goats

So another fleece result for mama too. Now I really must get them all washed, carded and spun before Alex needs to build an extension to the house!

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Staunton Park and Water festival

We had a lovely day out at Staunton Park on Sunday. They were again hosting the Hampshire Water festival where we looked around at craft stalls, and lots of environmental and conservation groups.

Imogen visited the beekeepers again (almost on first name terms with them) but we didn't make another beeswax candle this time. We also visited the bat conservation stand and were privileged to see some pipistrelle bats who were to be released when their wings were better. Imogen thought this was fantastic, they were so small. We often have them flying in the garden and at the allotment but to see some closer up and in daytime was lovely.

spinning the diabolo

Imogen had a go at some of the circus skills too, her favourite was walking the tightrope but she also had a brief stand on the stilts, and enjoyed some plate spinning, skipping and playing with the diabolo.
plate spinning

Imogen got to explore items from the sea floor including a mammoths tooth and part of its tusk, old spoons, a deer antler, a stone age tool and a WW2 bullet. We did some pond dipping at the lake and watched others having a go on the zorbs on the water, before having a picnic lunch. After lunch we went over to the Farm as we have a culture pass allowing us annual free entry to here in addition to many other places we visit. But that's another post!

Cooling down in the mist tent

New toys ...?

Oh yes ....

but not for Imogen, these are Mommy toys. Although I'm sure Imogen will have a play with some of them with me over time.

The guild sales table is a dangerous place to someone who can't resist a bargain, and especially a craft bargain. So what did I do at the last meeting? Only volunteered to help out at the sales table with another member as the usual sales table lady was away at a show.

Of course helping out means you get to see things that people bring in to sell. Now, I should start by saying I did not buy a spinning wheel which appeared. Oh no I didn't, tempting as it was a smaller one than mine, something I'm thinking about ... but not just yet. This wheel was lovingly made by one of the members fathers who has made several wheels apparently. But I resisted, and it didn't stay unsold for too long.

Next appeared an Inkle Loom, an Ashford Inklette to be precise - the smaller one - and I've recently been looking at these but couldn't really afford the approx £30 price of them. This one appeared, in brand new condition, with all the bits still in the bag attached to it ... £12. Sold. Bargain.

Asford Inklette (inkle loom) finding a new home

Then there were some Weavette blocks, again something I've thought about before, as an introduction to weaving (I have no space for a table or floor loom ... no really I don't!). Two in a box, one 2" square and the other 4" square ... £5. Sold. Real Bargain, as I only realised later that there was an old price sticker on the bottom of the box for £25, they were used but in excellent condition. So I have been having a play with these - so quick to do and pretty easy. Will show you some results another time. A great way to use up all those bits of wool you just can't throw away.

Weavette loom squares

So is that all I went home with?

No, I didn't think you'd believe me either. I also went home with this big box ...


Yes, a drum carder. Sadly though I didn't buy this, although not that sad as they are soooo expensive to buy. Luckily I belong to a guild that owns one and loans it to members for a small monthly fee, and as we don't meet in August I have it for 2 months. Oh the fun I'm going to have with this. It took a bit to get going but now I know what I'm doing I should get lots of wool into batts for spinning soon, will certainly get it carded quicker and with less effort on the arms than the hand carders, but I do enjoy hand carding.

Drum carder on loan

Monday, 26 July 2010

A little unexpected

Beach at Victoria Country Park

We spent Saturday afternoon at one of the local parks where Imogen likes to go. We took her bike for a little riding and then a play on the park, slides and swings before swapping the bike for a ball and bit of football and ball games on the open spaces.

The park is one we go to often and get to park for free as part of a scheme we are members of, and wondered why on arrival there were stewards helping with parking, and noticed it was busy. But we couldn't figure out why, thinking maybe they had an event on somewhere.

When playing ball we needed to move over a bit as it got a lot busier and they started using the field for a car park. Imogen then wanted to pop the ball away and go down to the beach to play.
It was here again that we noticed how busy it was getting, the shoreline was lined with lots of people with cameras and binoculars.

... and then the penny dropped. I recalled reading about an event to mark the 70-year anniversary of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, which carried out the flypast. It also celebrates the 100 years of flight from Southampton.

Lancaster, Hurricane and Spitfire

So there standing on the beach we looked up and towards us and overhead were the UK's only remaining flying Lancaster Bomber; flanked either side by a Hurricane and the unmistakable Spitfire - creation of a Southampton born engineer.

Lancaster overhead

This was on the news site today with a short film (after the advert!).

It was very moving seeing them in the air, a historic moment whatever your view on their purpose all those years ago. I'm pleased I had my camera to capture the moment. They turned and flew past twice which was amazing and they were literally overhead as we were down by the shoreline. Imogen proclaimed they were a bit loud - they were, but it was awesome.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Weekend plans at Staunton Park

We shall most likely be going along to Staunton Park near Havant one day at the weekend, as they are hosting the Hampshire Water Festival again this year. We had a lot of fun here last year, between making things at the festival and then spending time in Staunton's farm and gardens. A lovely day out.

There will be the mobile science lab that we've seen before - full of fantastic things to see and learn, and have a go at pond dipping (albeit in trays and tubs); circus workshops which Imogen did somewhere else recently and loved; and they've got the Zorbing water walkers (giant bubble you get into and walk along the water); plus lots of information and crafts too.

Last year was a hot day when we went and it was most welcome to walk through the mist tent - so refreshing we didn't want to leave there.

Mist tent

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Sunshine and bike riding

improvised sun hat

So what have we been doing. We've enjoyed that we had some rain to water the plants and refill the water butts - one less big job to do, although it's now hot and dry again so I will be watering them later.

just riding my bike

Imogen has been enjoying riding a bike that has been stored in the grandparents loft since she was little, but it's now a good size for her to progress to (her other one is too small now, has been for a while really). She's never been that into riding her bike but this seems a lot easier for her once she got used to it so I think she will be riding a lot more in the future. She's had great fun with this for a few days.

The grandparents have been staying not too far away in the New Forest for a few days in their caravan so we went to visit them on Saturday. They were staying at one of those well equipped sites (my Mom does comfort caravan parks!). On arrival we played for a while with various things and then went for lunch in the restaurant. Imogen rode her bike to lunch.

at the park
down the slides

After lunch we went to the play park which was nice and had a go on the "crazy" golf. Alex and I have a bit of a thing about crazy golf no longer being that crazy. I remember the days as a child when crazy golf was crazy and difficult, not saying it's easy now but whoever designs them just doesn't put any effort into it any more. There is one exception to this that we have seen but not yet had a go at over in Northern Ireland - next time we are over there visiting family or on holiday we will go and try it out. It looks really good fun, you may get squirted with water on your way aroundd, it looks well designed and maintained; and even has a pirate ship in the middle. It's here if you're interested.
crazy golf the hole in one,
although not this go - didn't get it on camera

Anyway, enough of me moaning about crazy golf and how crazy it is. We had fun, although frustration set in with Imogen at times, only to be squashed when she hit the ball on one hole - up the slope through the clowns head (?) and it rolled down and she got ... a hole in one! None of the rest of us could even come close to achieving that. Fun was had even if she used the club more like a croquet mallet.

Time for an ice cream and then a ride on the bike back to the caravan for coffee and relaxation and more playing with hoops, velcro catch ball, tennis, frisby and lots more bike riding. It turned into a really hot afternoon which I wasn't expecting and we'd all forgotten to bring Imogen a hat, so I made a makeshift one with a clean hanky - how very British! I'd also not got the suncream (not like me) but my Mom had some I used on Imogen as it was hot.

more riding my bike
with my Grandad
Good weekend, and now this week Imogen has finished her last couple of sessions at pre-school, and only has a little party for all the leavers left on Friday.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Green Fair and Spinning Guild ... although not together!

Saturday was my Guild meeting and the AGM, interesting time there as the chairman and vice chairman were stepping down so a new committee was needed to be voted in, which it was after some discussions. They celebrate 60 years this year so the newsletter I am editor for was printed and ready and praised, which was lovely - always nice to get some positive feedback. There will be an exhibition in August in Winchester (more on that in another post soon) so everyone brought things they had made for display at the exhibition.

In the afternoon we had a guest speaker talk about lace making, and wow, she had made things that I would never have thought of as lace, they looked more woven in parts. She talked about lace making being a technique that you can then use whatever yarn you wish - whether that be the old fashioned traditional linen which was later replaced by cotton, up to any yarn weight. She had items made from all sorts of wools, handspun, noro, silks, etc. She teaches and knows of people who are trying the technique with metal wire. Really opened my eyes to a craft I knew very little about.

Interestingly, and confession time here, I bought a whole load of lacemaking things at the June Guild meeting where they have a big sales table (bargain and lovely things - I'll post about it another time). It's actually going to be a present for my Mom's birthday (no really, it is) as she expressed a while back that she'd love to try it and wondered if I knew if they had a guild - which they do. So at the end of the talk we were all looking at the lady's lovely things and she asked if anyone would like to have a go and I jumped at the chance so that I could get my head around how it works.

demo of lace making (blurred the face of the speaker)

It is surprisingly easy. Probably easier than knitting. I hope to have a go with some bits before I put the things together for my mom for her birthday in September, at least then we can look at how you do it together. Watch this space for progress.

Whilst I was at the Guild, Alex took Imogen to the Green Fair in Portsmouth (he took her in June too, but then realised he had the wrong month - oops!). They had a lovely day there in the park, it was only in the Guildhall square last year but this year had expanded into the park. They have great stalls to learn about renewable energy, environmental issues, permaculture, etc. You know the sort of fair I mean and if not check it out here,. Imogen made a beeswax candle again (made one last year too) and got a certificate, and impressed the lady by pointing out the queen bee to her without any help, and her knowledge of bees.

butterfly painted arm and bee stamp

They had a fun day, she had a butterfly painted on her arm (doesn't like face painting), built a dinosaur which is part of this project to build a giant dinosaur sculpture on Southsea Common called Luna Park that you could see from the Isle of Wight - a huge 16 metres tall! Gotta go and see that, in fact they have some great events and workshops planned too.

Imogen also drew a picture which was on a piece of paper destined to be made into a pinwheel/windmill, except she decided she just wanted to keep the picture as it was. I want to share with you what she drew on part of it. A spinning wheel, as Mommy was off at her spinning meeting. The person is her Daddy with his spiky hair! I love this picture - pretty accurate too - three legs just like my wheel, the drive band and the bobbin. Brilliant, I shall treasure it.

Imogen's picture of a spinning wheel

Back soon with other recent adventures.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Weekend adventures and relaxation

Well it's been a nice relaxing weekend; Saturday morning started with a bit of gardening, potting on seedlings, planting out the next succession of lettuce plants and some overhanging tree pruning from the woodland behind the house.

After lunch we ventured to Romsey to drop of a CD at the printers for the guilds July newsletter - so many pictures in it to celebrate the 60 years that it was too big to email them. It was pretty busy as we arrived and then I realised it was the Beggars Fair festival - a free festival with music and street entertainment. I remembered a friend from the guild talking about it last year. We had a nice walk around and paused in the King Johns House garden to eat an ice cream, New Forest ice cream at that (a bit of a favourite with Imogen at the moment). The gardens are lovely - wildflower meadow, herbs, and wonderful fruit against the walls - the Pears were looking so nice.

sitting in the gardens in Romsey

A wander through the town, we saw musicians and dancers of all kinds. Whilst sitting in the gardens we heard Jero FĂ©rec playing Flamenco Guitar, with the percussionist Iqbal Khan Pathan. A talented guitarist, lovely to listen to, and what better way than out in the open at a free festival.

Sunday morning was spent here - Holly Hill Woodland Park - not far away, for a lovely woodland walk, stick collecting for pooh sticks (although the water was still), stick collecting to play castles on the rocks, and feeding the ducks and the very large fish.

carved bench at Holly Hill
more climbing and castle play

A lovely morning walk. And for the afternoon ...

Water table play
woolly octopus?

The afternoon was spent in the garden, Imogen with her water table and me with my wool and Spinning wheel (Imogen wanted to take some pictures). She also had a bit of wool to play with - see above picture - she thought it looked like a woolly octopus.

carding jacobs fleece (humbug style)combed fibresMama spinning wool

We had a lovely time, and Daddy joined us for some tomato plant pruning, Imogen did the watering recycling the water from her play table and then they had a game of football.

footballer Imogen

end of afternoon spinning

Friday, 9 July 2010

Visiting school

Imogen is starting infant school in September, a lovely local school we were so pleased to be able to get her into as it wasn't our catchment school, which is not so nice.

Wednesday she had her final visit before starting in September, this visit she was going to be with her class and the teacher she is with (who is lovely). On our way there Imogen was very talkative, and Daddy reminded her to take a breath sometimes between talking, her reply?

"I'm just so excited, I can't stop talking"

She had a great time, said she didn't want to come home, and later drew some pictures of her teacher, the head teacher and the others. It's great to see her enjoying this time. It really is a lovely school, many areas set up inside and outside for them to explore and learn.

Later I was thinking about what she had said, and it just reminded her of me as a child. There are memories I have of doing something exciting and I just talked and talked and never stopped. I hope she does this for many years to come, lovely way to express her excitement.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

10 green bottles ...

... standing on the wall. Well that's how the nursery rhyme goes but we have a different version here.

17 champagne bottles standing in the shed,
17 champagne bottles standing in the shed,
1 went pop, but none have gone bang!
So there were 16 champagne bottles standing in the shed.

We assume the pressure worked it's magic and it went pop, and maybe the cage wasn't on as tight as we could do it. But total success so far in that there have been no bottle explosions.