Jonathan: Denise and I are fortunate in that we share so many interests, and even more fortunate in that we’ve had the opportunity to make those interests the basis of our daily lives. But being interested in something is not the same as having the time to do it. We’ve had quite a ‘traditional’ married life in that I’ve been the chief bread-winner, and Denise has been the chief home-maker. I’ve predominantly worked outwith the home : Denise has had periods working in factories and offices and care homes, but mostly Continue reading →
Jonathan: Renovation of our house here at An Garradh Mor stumbles fitfully towards the finishing line. As time allows, various treasures that have been stored away for years, or moved countless times from one nook or corner to another, are being installed in their old locations (albeit fixed to a completely re-built wall!) or have been found new ones. This morning Denise came across this framed cross-stitch sampler, that’s been returned to the just-right-for-it space in the kitchen it was first put up almost ten years ago shortly after my Mum passed away. I don’t know whether this sampler was to a bought pattern, or whether Mum designed it herself making reference to patterns for individual motifs, but certainly there’s a fair amount that’s entirely her own design, that portrays elements of her family life at the time. At the bottom are the three cats we had then: On the left and right are siblings Porgy (with his distinctive dark whiskers) and Bess (with her paler ginger fur and white bib). In the middle is Polly (sometimes Polly Perkins) the little tortoishell, who had come into our lives only recently. Above the line of flowers is a somewhat simplified representation of our canal boat High Sparrows – a design characteristic of boats built of wood in the 1950s for the inland waterways. Mum clearly wanted to show her distinctive neatly painted white water-line, though that seems to have resulted in the boat apparently soaring over the waves below! The three groups of flowers above the boat represent the sprigs of roses as seen in traditional painted canalware. The rest of the work is probably generic in generic cross-stitch motifs. 1974 was the year we took High Sparrows on our longest ever family canal holiday: from our home mooring at Burghfield Island on the River Kennet, we headed directly north via Braunston Continue reading →
Denise: Jonathan’s been picking gooseberries most evenings of late, topping-and-tailing them and putting them in the freezer before bed time. The desert varieties (mostly Leveller) are pretty much all picked, but now it’s mostly the desert gooseberries, which here are seen varying from first-ripe (green with blushes of bronze) to medium ripe (entirely burnished with gold) to fully ripe (purple). These are so sweet and more-ish! In another week or two they will almost all be the dark purple colour: by then they are good for eating fresh or perhaps minimal stewing in the microwave (and served cold or warm with cream), but are no longer any good for jams or wines. It’s been an absolutely dreadful year for weather – and everything that depends on it, especially home-grown food, but some things have done surprisingly well, and certainly that’s gooseberries, which are late but plentiful and very good quality. (But alas not plentiful enough to sell any!) Jonathan comes into the house with his hands and arms bloodied from the picking, but he says the gain is worth the pain!